July 1st 2018 – Lymm Rugby Club Clubhouse Development – Update
The Clubhouse Development Committee (CDC) has been extremely, but quietly, busy in the last two years trying to pull this increasingly complicated and costly project together.
If members have felt uninformed in recent months, we apologise but it is because the situation has not been straightforward and the CDC did not want to mislead anyone. We are aware that in the absence of facts people make up their own truth so here is the first in a series of regular updates on the Beechwood site’s development.
Planning permission granted
The good news is that, finally, after a considerable amount of to-ing and fro-ing, we have received full planning permission (the fabled 106!) from Warrington Borough Council for the development plan originally proposed. One of the main reasons it has taken so long is that the planning permission is slightly different to the plans approved in 2017 as we amended the layout of the 3G pitch to take account of the requirements of the RFU.
Phase 1 – 3G Pitch
Phase 1 of this plan is to lay a 3G pitch on Pitch 1, and this is still on the drawing board. However, recent press articles have informed us that the RFU is going through a cost-cutting exercise and the UK roll-out of 3G pitches is also therefore under review. While the signs are good currently, we await final clarification of our plans and expect a definitive answer in September. If the RFU withdraw we will have to amend the documents agreed with WBC which will add further expense and delays to the project.
If it does go ahead laying of the 3G pitch will commence in Spring 2019, ready for the 2019/20 season.
Phase 2 – New Clubhouse
To part-fund the building of the new clubhouse and the laying of the new car parking around the 3G and the new access from Crouchley Lane, we plan to build five new residential properties on the site of the existing car park, backing on to Crouchley Lane and a further five houses will also be built between the clubhouse and the walled garden. The sale of these properties will also part-fund the development outlined above.
Activity on this part of the plan is now rising to the surface and is being actively worked upon by the CDC. We have been in discussion with a number of developers with whom we are considering working in partnership with. The car park work needs to be completed to coincide with the completion of the Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP/3G Pitch).
Phases 3 and 4 – Fundraising
The programme for the rest of the housing, the new clubhouse and the conversion of the existing clubhouse will be determined once we are certain about the 3G pitch and have some certainty of the money we will be able to raise from the housing.
To achieve everything we are aspiring for will require continued fundraising from the membership as it is unlikely we will raise sufficient money from the housing. Indeed the financial models we had to produce for WBC are clearly designed to show that the granting of planning permission in the Green Belt does not generate surplus funds for the Rugby Club.
The approved plan shows the new clubhouse positioned within the walled garden and behind the wall which we understand is not ideal. There will be difficulties with whatever changes we wish to make but it is intended to take the views of the membership once we better understand where we stand financially with the project.
Once the new clubhouse is built and operational, the plan is we move out of the old clubhouse and this is refurbished, producing four more residential properties.
We are still in discussions with Manor Road Tennis Club who still hope to be able to move to the site and are in continuing negotiations with WBC and the Lawn Tennis Association which potentially could be a source of funding.
Summary and timing
There are no specific timescales stated here. As you can probably surmise we are not rushing any of the phases and they will take as long as they take. Whatever decisions we take will be for the long-term benefit of Lymm Rugby Club and its members, but affordability, cash flow and debt are always at the forefront of our minds.
Conservatively the completion of the site development may take a further 4-5 years but these timescales should not daunt us.
We therefore do need to emphasise the need to keep raising funds for the Grass Roots Clubhouse Appeal and this, as part of our culture, and out of necessity, will never stop. Your continued support, especially now by paying your club membership and in joining the 500 Club, and in all our fund raising efforts is hugely appreciated.
If you have any specific questions please talk to any of the CDC members.
Dave Newton, David Simpson, Andy Leach, John Cartwright, Simon Plumb