At last night’s (Monday 11th November) meeting of the council’s Cabinet, councillors agreed to progress to the next stage of an ambitious scheme which could see Wells Rugby Club and Wells Sports Club relocate to land in Haybridge.
The rugby club and those clubs based at Wells Sports Club have all given their initial support to the plans and are keen to examine the proposals in more detail.
The new site, on land between the A371 and Elm Close in Haybridge, could see new, modern sports facilities established. By moving so many of the city’s sports clubs onto one site, they would be able to share a range of new facilities.
Mendip District Council will appoint consultants to consider the feasibility of the proposals in more detail and to liaise with those affected by the proposals, including all the clubs across the area that may be interested in joining in with this scheme, the aim of which will be to provide state-of-the-art facilities, including a new clubhouse, courts and grass and synthetic pitches.
The groundbreaking initiative follows negotiations between the council and a local landowner, which would allow a larger combined facility to be provided in Haybridge alongside land that has already been bought by the rugby club. If feasible, this will ensure the clubs can continue to thrive in Wells, while benefitting from new and improved facilities.
The relocation plan remains at an early stage and would only be able to go ahead once the details show that the new replacement facilities would lead to equivalent or enhanced quality of provision for Wells overall and all the necessary planning permissions are granted.
Donna Nolan, corporate manager for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “To receive Cabinet backing for pursuing this scheme is a major step forward and allows us to move on to the next stage of the process, which will involve more widespread consultation.
“We are still at an early stage of this major project, but to have Cabinet support for the proposals, alongside the support of the sports clubs, is very encouraging.”
Cllr John Parham, portfolio holder for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “This is an ambitious scheme which could help to safeguard the future of sport in Wells for many years to come.
“I am in full support of these proposals and look forward to continuing to work with all the clubs involved to ensure we can make this relocation happen for the benefit of the people of Wells.
“I would like to pay tribute to the hard work of Cllr Tom Killen, who has been instrumental in bringing the project to this stage, and also to the management teams at both the athletic ground and the rugby club, who have worked with us in a spirit of openness and co-operation to bring the project together at this crucial point. I’m keen to work with all interested parties to see if we can turn this project into a reality.”
The new site in Haybridge would be leased long-term by Mendip District Council and is next to land that is already owned by Wells Rugby Club. It is hoped that all of the sports clubs could relocate onto the new combined site within the next three to four years.
Mendip District Council owns the freehold of the current site of Wells Sports Club and, once it had been vacated, would look to develop the site to provide housing for the district, subject to a feasibility study and necessary planning permission.
The rugby club will similarly work to provide further new housing at its current rugby club site.