New pitch ‘ok’ for Sidmouth Rugby Club

SIDMOUTH Rugby Football Club (SRFC) has been handed planning permission to turn a piece of farmland near the Byes into a sports pitch.

Club leaders say an extra facility will benefit existing teams and hand youngsters and ladies a greater opportunity to take up the game.

An application for a change of use to allow an agricultural field at Fortescue Farm to be turned into a single, full-size rugby pitch has been approved by the district council.

An officer, who made the decision under delegated powers, ruled that the project “would not be harmful to the enjoyment” of the Byes.

SRFC chiefs believe the bid will help continue their aims of encouraging and developing amateur rugby union for all ages and sexes – and to be one of the best clubs in the South West.

The club entered into a subject to planning lease with landowners and picked the site due to its proximity to existing sports pitches and Sidmouth College. Continuing popularity of rugby within the Sid Valley, expected to swell further when England hosts the 2015 Rugby World Cup, has led to an increase in demand on the club’s existing facilities, according to proposals.

Plans state: “In recent seasons SRFC has, on occasion, very reluctantly had to cancel fixtures due to the state of playing surfaces that are available. In addition, training sessions are often postponed.

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“In some circumstances, such as extreme rain or a hard frost, this cannot be avoided. However, some fixtures and, in particular, training sessions, are cancelled in order to preserve the integrity of the surface with a view to an important first team fixture or other senior team game going ahead. Inevitably, this means that the junior section suffers.

“By securing a new pitch, SRFC will be able to rotate its fixtures, training, and other events to a greater extent with the benefit that pressure and use will be reduced on the areas available.”

It is added that more pitches will allow for an expansion in numbers – which could see more teams fielded if demand dictates it.