Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 13:58 UK

London Irish rugby club HQ plans are rejected

Protest march in Sunbury, Surrey
Up to 500 people took part in a protest march earlier this month

Plans for a large development at the headquarters of the Premiership rugby side London Irish have been rejected.

The club wanted to move from its base in The Avenue, Sunbury, to a new £12m training complex on the site of Hazelwood Golf Club in the town.

It also planned to replace its existing headquarters with 194 homes.

Spelthorne borough councillors rejected the proposals saying there was not a big enough housing need in the area to justify the loss of open space.

Heather Morgan, head of planning and housing strategy, said: "The council felt the scheme failed to provide an adequate justification in terms of housing need.

"There wasn't an overriding need for housing to be provided on that site which would justify the loss of the open space."

She added: "Because the members of the council refused the scheme for Hazelwood if they'd allow housing on The Avenue site that would have resulted in an unacceptable lose of an outdoor sports facility."

Protest march

London Irish had been seeking planning permission to pull down the stand and clubhouse in The Avenue and replace it with a housing development and demolish the driving range and other buildings at the Hazelwood Golf Club to build five adult and 12 junior rugby pitches and other facilities.

Residents' groups had claimed the club just wanted to make money out of the land.

Up to 500 people marched from Orchard Meadow in Sunbury to the club's training ground in The Avenue earlier this month to protest against the proposals.

Ian Anstey, chairman of the action group Sunbury Opposes London Irish Development, said: "The fact is they put forward a very large and a very unnecessary plan to generate revenue for London Irish Holdings and that's been turned down by the council.

"We hope they stay but if they decided to go somewhere else that's their decision."

London Irish plans to appeal against the decision.

Chief executive Andy Martin said: "We presented last night a very viable and deliverable scheme, which we know having taken top legal advice, will have an excellent chance of being approved at appeal."

He added: "London Irish will be appealing; we want Sunbury to remain our home.

"We believe that the meeting last night was unfair and unbalanced.

"It is also very disappointing that no value has been placed on the importance of sport for Spelthorne and its residents."

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Protest over rugby club HQ plans
10 Apr 10 |  Surrey

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