Wasps' Rugby look to acquire the sports facility and astro turf at Henley.

Posted by Anne Tubb on 29 November 2019

Copy of email:

We are sure that you have all seen or heard in the press, papers

and social media that Wasps Rugby has exchanged contracts to

purchase the Sports facilities at Warwickshire College - Henley

Campus which includes the astro turf pitch that we currently use

to play a number of our home fixtures. This is subject to them

getting planning permission from Stratford District Council to

fulfil their plans to build what they are describing will be a

state of the art training facility.  Wasps have stated publicly

that they hope to have the facility up and running for the start

of the 2020/21 season.

 

Crucially, Wasps plans will include a 5G rugby pitch on the base

of the existing astro turf hockey pitch and they will provide no

community access. Hockey can't be played on a 5G pitch so that

would be the end of hockey at the venue anyway. Other local

sports and clubs will be affected as well as Stratford Hockey

Club.

 

Although it has taken us a few weeks to communicate to our

members we have been taking action in the background. We have

provided a Henley residents group details of our usage of the

facility for their discussions with Henley Parish Council and

tried to speak to Wasps to get more information about when any

proposed changes are likely to take place.

 

We have also been in touch with the College with whom we

currently book the venue.  The College has put us and other users

on notice that any further bookings, beyond the end of November

cannot be assured, but we believe from our dialogue with the

College that our use this season should continue for now,

although this could come to an end on short notice.  For now we

propose to continue to play the fixtures there as programmed,

whilst we can do so.  However if Wasps' plans come to fruition

this will present a significant challenge next season, if not

sooner.

 

We are looking at other options but as you will all know the

shortage of astro turf pitches for hockey in the area means that

this will not be easy.

 

We have contacted Stratford District Council planning department

for clarity on Wasps' application but they have confirmed that

nothing has been received to date.  We have explained the Hockey

Club’s interest in the matter but it is not possible at this

stage for them to register our interest until a planning

application has been made.  We will simply have to monitor the

situation.  Any member who wishes to voice their opposition to

the proposals (insofar as they have been broadcast in the media)

should feel free to do so.  In due course, as and when there is a

forum for formal representations, we will let you know.

 

This situation once again shows the desperate need for a second

astro turf pitch in the town and we will urge the Council and

other parties to build this into any negotiations they have with

Wasps and hope that this may add support to any other local astro

turf proposals.

 

At the AGM in March we gave an overview of KES’s plans for an

astro turf pitch at Manor Road in Stratford.  We have remained in

touch with KES but the position remains that their development is

dependent on them selling the strip of land on the playing fields

that borders Manor Road and obtaining planning permission for

housing on it.  We understand that the School continues to work

on their plans and hope to submit their application in the New

Year. We will keep you posted on this and at the appropriate time

when full details are publicised, we will be encouraging members

of the Club to ensure that the benefits to the Club and the

community be made known.  The School have re-affirmed that they

welcome the Hockey Club as their principal community partner and

user.  In the meantime you will appreciate that there is no

certainty over the outcome nor of the timescale for implementing

the project (if successful).

 

We will update you if we hear any further news or if we need to

take any further action.  For now, no change is being made to our

fixture list and programmed match times but if Henley does close

before the end of the season we will have to review how best we

balance our commitments with the available pitch resources.

 

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