Penallta RFC has issued a lengthy statement opposing plans to build a school extension on one of its pitches.
Caerphilly County Borough Council wants to create a new pitch at Sue Noake Leisure Centre in Ystrad Mynach.
The new pitch will replace one that looks set to be lost at Penallta RFC when the council expands nearby Trinity Fields School, which is for pupils with additional learning needs.
The school expansion plans have not yet been given the go-ahead, but look likely to be passed after they were backed by the council’s education scrutiny committee last year. It would boost the number of places at the school by 80.
Residents, already angry at the potential loss of the pitch, are unhappy because of a long-standing problem with leaking sewage from a manhole at the site of the planned pitch at Sue Noake.
Now, Penallta RFC has issued a statement opposing the move.
The club said it has respected the process laid out by the council, but that following the concerns over the sewage it has been unable to accept the council’s proposals.
The statement reads: “Suffice to say as a club we are massively concerned by this – the council’s initial comments to us suggest that they feel these incidents are rare and unlikely to reoccur. However, three instances in the last eight weeks, previous recorded incidents and the historic testimony of locals suggest that these manholes regularly discharge.
“Welsh Water own the pipes/manholes and are currently investigating the cause and what action can be taken at the site.”
The club also expresses concerns about drainage at the new site at Sue Noake and a planned new mini and juniors pitch at the old college field.
The club has also said changing room facilities may not be adequate and that parking and traffic congestion could be worsened in the town on match days.
It says: “The current changing facilities are poor and can barely cater for two teams.
With the astroturf due to be refurbished and hockey matches gladly returning to the site – there is a realistic prospect on a Saturday of a hockey match and two rugby matches taking place at the same time (six teams) with only two changing rooms.
“Additionally – with the Ystrad Mynach Centre for Sporting Excellence not guaranteed to be available and [the club’s second flood-prone pitch] not up to standard, the Sue Noake pitch effectively becomes our home ground for hosting WRU Division 1 matches.
“We have no assurances that referee changing rooms or a medical room will be available at the site, both of which are WRU membership requirements and are both in place alongside the current [main]pitch.
“The current pitch is alongside the clubhouse and ideally placed for after match meals and refreshments for both players and supporters. Playing up at the Sue Noake pitches is currently a last resort for our club due to the poor conditions there and the adverse impact on both clubhouse revenue and player/supporter experience.
“Additionally, if changing rooms are unavailable at the Sue Noake site then we face the prospect of teams changing at the clubhouse and then having to walk/travel through the town centre to the pitch.”
The statement ends with: “The club have submitted a detailed response to the current mitigation proposal that highlights our concerns and contains requests for clarity on multiple points.
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“Disappointingly, over the last month the council have cancelled the last two meetings to discuss our concerns and have indicated that they are comfortable that the mitigation they have proposed is adequate and that a further meeting is unlikely to happen until after the Education Scrutiny committee meets (on March 22) to discuss and agree that this proposal moves forward for cabinet to make a final decision (April 7).
“If cabinet decide to progress with the development, the final stages of the process will involve the submission of a formal planning application alongside a full business case being submitted to Welsh Government for approval – if both are successful, the development will begin with the field likely lost from autumn this year.”
Caerphilly Observer asked Caerphilly County Borough Council for its response to Penallta RFC’s statement.
A spokesman said there was a need to expand Trinity Fields.
He said: “If agreed, our proposals would result in a net gain in sporting facilities within Ystrad Mynach and we are working hard to minimise the impact on the club and maximise the sporting opportunities available to the wider community.
“We recognise the role that Penallta Rugby Club plays within the local community, so we want to achieve a way forward in the best interests of all parties.”
“The council is currently following a prescribed process, which has included widespread consultation around the proposals.”
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