Worthing Rugby club in talks with developers

WORTHING Rugby Club this week confirmed it was in talks with housing developers about potentially moving from its current site in Angmering.

The club is in discussion with Persimmon Homes about relocating from its ground, in Roundstone Lane, to a field near Goring railway station.

However, officials from the organisation have been keen to stress that nothing is set in stone and a move – if any – is unlikely to happen in the near future.

The announcement followed a flurry of comments posted on Angmering Village Life’s forum, in which some users highlighted the fact that members of the sports club and representatives from Persimmon Homes had met earlier this month.

People on the site raised concern about what might replace the facility with several fearing proposals for another large-scale housing development in the village may be on the cards.

Others claimed any possible conversion of the grounds, into residential housing, would be contrary to the green infrastructure corridor, set out in Arun District Council’s local plan proposals – which has ring-fenced the land for other uses.

While some reported that the rugby club had agreed a gratuity of £250,000 over a 10-year period with developers. However, Kelly O’Haire, commercial manager, claimed this figure was far higher than the actual one discussed.

Campaigner Sue Ware, of Save Angmering Village, said that the group would “relentlessly oppose” any potential application from Persimmon to build on the land. But she conceded that the group would be stretched, fighting a battle on three fronts against an invasion of more than 1,000 potential homes - with Barratts David Wilson Homes, in the north east, West End Nurseries in the south and the rugby club in the middle.

Sue said: “I think the carrot Persimmon is dangling in front of the rugby club is great and one that would be very difficult for them to refuse. It could mean that new facilities, a new pitch, and added investment to help support them. I could understand if the club were to accept this offer.

“But whatever happens Save Angmering Village will be fighting Barratts David Wilson Homes and Persimmon tooth and nail to see that this influx of housing doesn’t come to Angmering.”

She added that if Barratts’ current planning application was approved, the flood gates would open for other similar developments.

Mrs O’Haire said that Worthing was a growing club and had ambitions of expanding – something which could have a positive impact on Worthing, if it moved to Goring.

She said: “Yes, a meeting was held with the members and it was only to agree that Persimmons could go public that we were talking to them.

“But I just want to stress that nothing has been signed or taken forward any further than this and whatever decision is taken, we will ensure it’s one that remains sympathetic to the village.

“This isn’t a short-term arrangement. There are millions of hoops that have to be jumped through. So it could be something that could realistically take 10 years before anything substantial happens.”

A spokeswoman from Arun District Council (ADC) said: “The site is protected from development under the green infrastructure corridor policy in the draft local plan. However, this is still subject to agreement following public consultation, the second phase of which has yet to take place.

“ADC has received no formal planning application for development on this site and should one be received in the future it would have to be considered in line with local plan policy and on its own merits.”