Pontypool RFC and Torfaen Council release joint statement
Written by Dan Williams on 9th January 2019
Pontypool RFC and Torfaen County Borough Council are pleased to announce that significant progress has been made in overcoming the legal steps required to secure the club’s long-term future at Pontypool Park.
As a result of further talks, Pontypool RFC and Torfaen County Borough Council have established a way forward and both parties are fully committed to securing a renewed strategy that aims to resolve all required legal steps by June 2019.
Pontypool RFC has therefore halted plans to leave Pontypool Park and the club is committed to working alongside the local authority to ensure that the club remains at its rightful and historic home.
Furthermore, both parties are pleased to confirm that the covenant that ensures that Torfaen County Borough Council “will hold the property for the use of the Public” has been amended to give the local authority flexibility on how the rugby grounds area is managed moving forward. The rest of Pontypool Park though will still be managed under this covenant. Both parties wish to express their sincerest gratitude to the vendors of the covenant for their support in facilitating this amendment.
The next stage of the legal process is to undertake a consultation with the community, park users and stakeholders on the ‘Playing Field Regulations’ and it is this which has been issued today. This is a legal process, which would allow the Council to grant a lease to Pontypool RFC, to give the club security for the future and will allow it to invest in and improve the rugby ground’s facilities. Further details of the consultation can be found below.
To support the consultation, Pontypool RFC will shortly be submitting a planning application, which will include new fencing that seeks to enclose the pitch, the main spectator stand and the northern terrace – in order to protect the facility from on-going impacts of vandalism and arson. Details of wider upgrades to the main spectator stand, such as new cladding (which will significantly improve its visual appearance) and new seating throughout will also be provided.
The application will also include details of additional tree planting and a soft landscaping plan, which will assist with softening the visual impact of the required fencing and provide betterment to the wider park.
The planning application will be the subject of the statutory planning consultation period and the views of the general public will also be considered. Following the statutory consultation period, the Local Planning Authority will determine the planning application by weighing up the merits of the scheme in relation to all of the representations received.
A link to the ‘Playing Field Regulations’ consultation pack, where members of the public will be able to review and comment on the documentation, will be made available later today.
Comment from Pontypool RFC chief executive officer, Ben Jeffreys:
This is a significant moment in Pontypool RFC’s storied history and is one that should offer hope and positivity to the thousands of supporters who have called Pontypool Park their sporting home for the last seventy-three years.
During the summer, we felt we had no alternative but to leave Pontypool Park and it was a decision that weighed heavily on all those who care for this great club. Yet it put into stark perspective just how much the people of Pontypool want this beacon of the town to remain as the club’s home and I am pleased that this strategy gives us every opportunity to achieve that.
Crucially, the club and local authority are now working in complete unison. We have absolute clarity on the steps that must be followed to get our plans over the line and for the first time since we embarked on this process, I am very confident that we will be able to turn Pontypool Park into a modern and vibrant sporting venue that will deliver a much-improved experience for the community.Ben Jeffreys, Pontypool RFC chief executive officer
Comment from Torfaen County Borough Council leader, Anthony Hunt:
I am really pleased with the progress that has been made since our council meeting in July. We have worked closely together with Pontypool RFC to devise solutions to quite complex legal issues and the start of consultation today shows our shared desire for the club to stay in Pontypool Park.
The public response only reaffirmed the pride and passion the people of Pontypool have for their club. As leader of the Council, I’m always keen that we listen to our residents and wherever possible find solutions to problems. The decision to remain in the park can give a historic club such as Pontypool RFC the very best chances of success for the future and is good news for the town.Anthony Hunt, Torfaen County Borough Council Leader