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Hereford Rugby Club plays for its future
HEREFORD Rugby Club has played the match of its life at the Court of Appeal.
The club’s future hinges on a new stadium near Hampton Bishop and 190 new homes that come with it.
Hampton Bishop Parish Council wants to stop the development and has gone to appeal after it failed in an High Court challenge last December.
The council argues that the plans will completely transform the area.
Three of the country's leading judges were are being asked to quash Herefordshire Council's decision to grant planning permission for the scheme to the club, which plans to relocate from its current Wyeside ground at Greyfriars, Hereford.
The High Court upheld the planning permission in a ruling the parish council wants over-turned saying the 190 new homes will more than double the number of houses in its area, with the rugby facilities “extensive” and related car parking “significant”.
As proposed, the rugby development will be an HQ for the club comprising of four adult pitches, two junior pitches, a 3G training pitch, an indoor training facility, a clubhouse and a 400-seat spectator stand.
The parish council claims the council's grant of permission was "unlawful" because it had failed to determine whether the proposal complied with the development plan for the area, and says that it granted permission against the recommendation of its own planning officers.
However, Richard Kimblin, for Herefordshire Council, said there is a need for the development with no scope to meet theclub's ambitions by expanding the current ground, which is in a flood plain.
He said that in a “finely balanced decision” planning councillors had been entitled to reach a different view to their officers and find that landscape impacts were outweighed by advantages including creation of new sports facilities and a contribution towards housing targets.
He argued that the decision was made after proper and careful consideration, and that the permission should be upheld.
Ian Dove QC added on behalf of the rugby club and the developer that the High Court judge's decision was "unimpeachable".
The Court of Appeal is expected to give a judgment in writing at a later date.