Norwich Rugby Club’s move to UEA sparks fears over Yare Valley
A proposal to build a new sports facility on a green space has met with criticism, but organisers defend the scheme and believe it will benefit the community.
The chairman of community group Yare Valley Society said members are 'up in arms' about the plan for Norwich Rugby Club to share new pitches with the University of East Anglia on land off Colney Lane.
Andy Pott, secretary of the rugby club, accepted there would be some change to the area, but said there was room to accommodate the wishes of all interest groups.
An online petition objecting to the scheme has been signed by more than 1,500 people.
The rugby club chose the Colney Lane site after searching for a new home, as it sold its current base at Beeston Hyrne, near Spixworth, to a housing developer.
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Its plans, submitted jointly with UEA to South Norfolk Council, include new sports pitches, with an artificial grass pitch that has fencing and floodlighting, a new pavilion/club house, which would include a café, changing room, club room and bar, and a 284-space car park.
But Andrew Salisbury, chairman of the Yare Valley Society, said there were a number of reasons why the club should move elsewhere.
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There should be no developments on river valleys.
The facility would destroy the rural aspect of the area.
Concerns over the regulation of the planned car park, and the safety of cyclists using a proposed two-way access road.
Currently the site consists of playing pitches and a pedestrian/cycle path.
'Our members are up in arms about this, and many people have objected to the scheme to the council,' Mr Salisbury said. He claimed UEA were acting in contrary to their environmental policy by planning to build on a green space.
But Mr Pott, of the rugby club, said: 'It's not an area of natural beauty at the moment as there are some large pylons stretching across the landscape.
'We need the car park to stop people parking along Colney Lane, and it would be managed the same way as UEA's other car parks.'
The petition can be signed at www.change.org/p/south-norfolk-council-save-the-wildlife-habit-at-earlham-park-from-developers
A UEA spokesperson said: 'Norwich Rugby Club and UEA have now submitted a comprehensive planning application which addresses many of the issues raised by the petition. Comments can be made via the normal process to the planning authority, South Norfolk Council.
'This is an important project for the University, the club and the community, and we have had a number of discussions with the Council Planning Team throughout the process, who have provided advice and guidance.
'The application is supported by technical reports and survey work explaining how such things as traffic generation, ecology, archaeology, flood risk, landscape impact, trees and hedgerows have been taken into account and informed the design process.
'In light of some early feedback, the University & NRFC have also had further discussions with the Norwich Cycle Campaign and representatives from the UEA Bicycle User Group (BUG) and the NRP BUG and are in the process of updating plans for cycle and pedestrian paths to address these comments. The Council will consider all comments made before determining the planning application later this year.
'The University has a Sustainable Travel Plan which is available here: https://portal.uea.ac.uk/documents/6207125/6492864/UEA+Travel+Plan+2016/470d57ec-a2be-4e0b-be02-febe61c6fc23.
'We can confirm that the land will continue to be owned by UEA.'