- Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services to report.
Councillor Rushforth, Cabinet Member for Culture and Tourism introduced a report by the Strategic Director of Environment and Development Services regarding the responses to the legal notice advertising the proposal to lease an area of Herringthorpe Playing fields to Rotherham Rugby Club Ltd.
The report set out the level of opposition to the proposal and the numbers also in support for the training and playing opportunities for a range of ages and abilities for young people.
The lease would be granted at a nominal rate in line with the Asset Transfer Policy. The Club was responsible for securing the funding for the development. An offer of funding by the Rugby Football Union was likely through a combination of grant and an interest free loan, to be guaranteed by the Club’s members. The funding would be subject to satisfactory planning approvals and lease agreements being in place. There were no financial consequences to the Council for the development.
Some correspondence had been received from a local interest group and it was proposed that the issues raised could be accommodated. These included:-
· Parking and Traffic Management Plan – to be agreed prior to the lease being signed in consultation with the Residents’ Liaison Committee. The Parking and Traffic Management Plan had not progressed awaiting further decision.
· Inappropriate Parking – there was the potential for a Residents’ Parking Scheme in the locality which could potentially address some of the inappropriate parking activities currently taking place. This was subject to public consultation and whether there was consensus to taking this forward.
· Increased levels of noise and disturbance and the level of intense use from 4.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. – it was noted that there was the possibility of the playing fields being used at these times currently, so this was not considered a valid concern.
· Level of Consultation – members of the public were of the view that there should have been a full consultation strategy undertaken by the Council given the number of objections and whether the report actually covered the concerns raised.
· Activities on this site – it was confirmed that this facility was to be used by Rotherham Rugby Club Limited and not Rotherham Titans and the Heads of Terms of the Lease would set out clearly that this site should be made available for use by other clubs. The Council was keen for this facility to be used and would make sure that this was factored in and the views of local residents would continue to be supported.
· Formation of the Residents’ Liaison Committee, which should include representatives from the Council, Rotherham Rugby Club Limited and also Ward Members.
Cabinet Members/Ward Members Hussain and McNeely, along with other Ward Members, were not in support of this proposal to lease an area of Herringthorpe Playing Fields and expressed their concerns about the location of the facility, inadequate consultation undertaken by Rotherham Rugby Club Limited, car parking and how this could be addressed, particularly for coaches on match days, how to ensure that floodlights were actually switched off at 9.00 p.m., unsuitability of a cycle plan, dog fouling and use of the other pitches for other sporting activities and whether these matters should all be addressed before there was an agreement to proceed.
Cabinet Members took account of all the issues raised as part of the consultation process and the views made at the meeting and were in agreement that the lease would not be signed until there had been some discussion, particularly about the parking concerns and potential location of the portaloo, with the Residents Liaison Committee, which should be Elected Member led, and those concerned residents that had attended today.
Resolved:- (1) That the proposed lease of Herringthorpe Playing Field to Rotherham Rugby Club Ltd. be approved.
(2) That Rotherham Rugby Club Ltd. be required, as part of the lease, to set up a Residents’ Liaison Committee to help improve community relationships and be a forum to raise issues such as parking and community use and for this to be chaired by a representative from the Council.