Completion of a new ground for Chorley Rugby Union Club could finally be in sight after councillors approved another change to the plans for the Chancery Road venue.
Revamped facilities for the club were promised back in 2013 as part of a proposal by developer Persimmon Homes to build 50 new properties and provide a new clubhouse, along with real and artificial playing pitches. But the project has been beset by delays and remains unfinished.
Chorley Council’s development control committee has now given the go-ahead to a reduction in size for the artificial pitch in order to overcome the latest hurdle for the development – a water main which was impeding work.
A recent meeting of the committee heard that all parties to the revised proposal, including the club, are “in agreement and are prepared to proceed”.
Last year, councillors also gave the go-ahead for a smaller clubhouse than had been planned at one stage in the six-year saga. Building work had previously stalled when the club’s trustees and a construction management firm which had been appointed to undertake the development “parted company”, according to papers presented to the committee.
Persimmon Homes had been funding the work in stages in accordance with a planning agreement. Following direct negotiations between the housebuilder and the contractor, it emerged there were insufficient funds to complete the two-storey clubhouse design and it was agreed to revert the more traditional sryle which had originally been proposed.
In approving the latest revision to the plans, several committee members expressed their dismay at the delays and redesigns.
“I think this represents the best way forward, disappointing though it is,” Cllr Alistair Morwood said.
Fellow member, Cllr Christopher France, added that residents of the now completed estate had been putting up with the unfinished rugby club on their doorsteps “for far too long”.
Chorley Rugby Union Club said that it was unable to comment on the situation as the land in question is owned and managed through a charitable trust, which it invited to respond instead.
In a statement to the local democracy reporting service, a spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Lancashire said: “We are pleased that the planning application has been approved to allow the long-awaited completion of this project.
“We look forward to implementing the consent quickly, to ensure the rugby club will be able to return to full operation from its own ground.”
Conditions limiting the number of dwellings which Persimmon Homes could complete before the rugby facilities were finished were lifted in 2017 because of the delays in delivering the sporting ground. However, the company voluntarily entered into an agreement which guaranteed that the work would be completed within five years.