Beechgrove Statement from WRFC Committee

Beechgrove Statement from WRFC Committee

By Allyn Chetland
16 March
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Please read the article - edited 18th Mar as requested by TTW


*** article edited 18th Mar as requested by TTW ***

WELLINGTON RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB LTD
THE ATHLETIC GROUND, CORAMS LANE, WELLINGTON, SOMERSET, TA21 8LL
TELEPHONE (01823) 663758

Website: http://wellingtonrfc.co.uk

Beech Grove Playing Field Project Mission Statement:

• It is clear that, as the town of Wellington continues to expand, it is becoming
ever more critically important that provision of both suitable, and sufficient,
recreational space is fully considered.

• In light of the ongoing pandemic, it is vital that all, but particularly the young
people of our community, have access to facilities that ultimately provide an outlet to
assist with both their physical and mental wellbeing, aiding their development future
welfare.

• Wellington Rugby Football Club (“WRFC”) aspires to provide such facilities
and, in alignment with the town’s Playing Pitch Strategy (“PPS”), has ambitions to
create two pitches on the current Beech Grove field pitch.

• The aim is to provide our great community with a much-needed additional
playing area, which is undoubtedly required by our hundreds of children, youth and
adult members.

History

It is important to consider some events from the past that have naturally influenced WRFC’s
plans. Many years ago, where the ‘wildlife area’ now is, across the culvert from Beech Grove pitch there once was a junior rugby pitch providing a much needed playing resource. WRFC, after discussions with, and representations from other parties, ceded use of this to its present form.

At that time, WRFC had use of a second pitch at the playing fields, next to Wellington
Football Club’s (“WAFC”) main pitch, in part overlapping Wellington Cricket Club’s cricket
pitch. This was a marvellous pitch for WRFC because it was well maintained and
exceedingly well drained, very seldom would the pitch be unfit for play.

However, following the promotion of WAFC to a superior league and the requirement of the FA to have a first and second team pitch adjoining one another, and after discussions with all interested parties and the council, WRFC agreed to relinquish use of this superb facility.
In doing so, this ensured that WAFC were able to gain their justified promotion and, at that
time, WRFC was offered the use of Beech Grove field, this was in line with a long-term
vision that was presented to us, with which we were in full agreement.

This vision was encapsulated during discussions of the working party formed by the main
stakeholders under the PPS for the town. The working group comprised of representatives
from the town’s main sports clubs, Wellington Sport Federation, Wellington Town Council
(“WTC”) and, what was then, Taunton Deane Borough Council (“TDBC”), from which both
the departments of Community Leisure and Planning Policy were represented. Its aim was to provide additional playing capacity and/or enhanced availability of playing areas for the
clubs. All stakeholders unanimously agreed on the preferred strategy option. For WRFC the element of the agreed strategy option was clearly defined, specifically, to rotate and
reposition the existing Beech Grove pitch and add an additional pitch. This is the plan
that we accepted, enthusiastically adopted and which we now strive to deliver.

In order to progress this vision further, WRFC recently purchased Beech Grove field from
Somerset County Council (“SCC”) with the majority of funds raised from its ever-supportive
membership, and a small grant from Wellington Town Council. Similar grants were allotted to the majority of other sports clubs within the town at this time.

This is now where we are and it is full alignment with the PPS, as endorsed by Wellington
Sports Federation, Wellington Town Council and TDBC, now Somerset West & Taunton
(“SW&T”). The aspirations of these clubs and strategy has been in the public domain since
at least 2017.

Works policy

WRFC aims to now make the “PPS vision” a reality.
Our project plan is to rotate the existing pitch and add an additional pitch and at least two
minis grids. These “grids” represent a vital element towards attracting young participants in our sport. The additional pitch will provide much needed capacity for ladies, youth and junior teams. In addition, we fully intend continuing to support our local schools with the provision of playing facilities as occasionally requested by them.

Moreover, WRFC plans to ensure that this facility will provide the maximum availability for
use and ‘future proof’ it by enhancing the drainage. Currently the Beech Grove field is
essentially unfit to play on for around 40% of the season, this, simply, is
unsustainable. It over burdens the main pitch which is now beginning to exhibit the
symptoms of over use and unless these issues are addressed and remedied our
playing and recreational capacity for those we seek to attract into, or offer the option
of, this sport will diminish even further.

There are some enabling works that need to be undertaken and, being dependent on the
Ecology survey, could not be started beforehand and, provide only a very tight window in
which to actually start. These involve some additional fencing, clearing of the area, and the
piping of the ditches that surround the playing field. For the southwest quadrant which
appears to be of particular concern to many, this means around 50-60mtr of piping.
Discussions with the SCC Lead Local Flood Authority (“LLFA”) team regarding this remain
ongoing.

This project will be delivered in full consultation, and alignment with, SW&T. In addition,
specialist consultative services will be engaged to ensure that each aspect of the project is
delivered to its optimum. It will encompass not only the pitch/playing surface
technology but will also be very mindful of our close environment.

To this end, WRFC has engaged the services of Ecological Consultants who have
performed the Ecology Survey and whose findings have been detailed in their report, which has duly been submitted to SW&T, whom have granted consent for some of the tree moving works to be undertaken whilst the consultation process is in place. For transparency, the findings and conclusions of the Ecological Survey report do not negatively impact on WRFC’s plans. This report has also been shared with WTC.

We have undertaken a full Topographical Survey of the field to confirm that our proposed
plan is deliverable and initiated contact with approved Agronomy consultant to derive a
schedule/plan of the specialist services required.

Some trees at the southwest quadrant are either dead or diseased and are included in the
aforementioned consent to remove. In addition, project delivery will require that further trees will need to be removed or translocated and we have been in full consultation with “SW&T Public Open Spaces Team” in this regard. Furthermore, SW&T have stipulated that WRFC must mitigate any tree loss with new saplings on a 3 for 1 basis, which we gladly confirm we will be more than pleased to adhere to. There are approx. 12 trees that require translocation/removal.

WRFC will engage specialist Arboricultural consultants to gain advice and
recommendations as to which species would be preferable to plant, taking into
account the climate tolerance of some species. The climate resilience of some of our
indigenous species are not sufficiently robust enough to prevail through the current climate fluctuations. A detailed tree plan will be submitted at the appropriate juncture.
In addition, WRFC intends, in full consultation with SW&T and specialist ecology
consultants, to finish the reformed area with wildflower and meadow seed. This will then
encourage bees, insects and resulting wildlife to flourish.

Furthermore, WRFC intended to gift a small section of its newly owned land to the
community. This would facilitate the creation of a walkway from the corner of ‘the Rec’
across the small footbridge bridge, or other crossing, to the wildlife area from where it will
continue adjacent to the newly planted and translocated trees up into the Sports Centre. For clarity, there is no existing formal public walkway here.

Nearing the completion of this project WRFC intends to offer, pro-bono, its in house
specialist capabilities in assisting with the creation of this walkway intending to help
provide an environmentally friendly, yet resilient walkway. This will certainly not be
“slabs of concrete” that has been suggested by speculators recently. However, it must
be highlighted, that this walkway is on SW&T land and WRFC merely would offer to assist,
as directed, in order to further contribute to the community facility and mitigate public
expenditure.

Visual Summary (see diagram)

In reassurance of the best intentions to deliver an enhancement to both community recreational facility and community wildlife feature.

Wellington Rugby Football Club
Management Committee

Somerset West and Taunton Council
PO Box 866
Taunton
TA1 9GS
0300 304 8000

Statement
9 March 2021

Intended Disposal of Open Space Land

Cllr Marcus Kravis, Executive Member for Assets at SWT, said: “The Council has been in
discussion with Wellington Rugby Football Club over the transfer of this small section of land since 2018

It is now consulting on the proposed transfer of this asset which is needed to accommodate the regulation run off space for junior rugby, enabling expansion of the Rugby Club. This would be achieved by placing a culvert in the ditch and covering it over in a small section.

An ecological survey undertaken by the Club has been provided to SWT which has given
consent for some of the tree moving works to be undertaken whilst the consultation process is in place.

This does not prejudice the outcome of the consultation - if the post consultation decision is to allow the transfer then works will have already been completed preventing a delay caused by the nesting season; if the decision is not to allow the transfer, and we are under no obligation to allow it, then trees will have been moved rather than lost and any work is at the cost of the Club.

If the Council decides to transfer this land following the formal consultation process, it would remain publically accessible. Further planting would be undertaken by the Club and if any trees are to be lost they would be replaced on a 3:1 ratio in line with the agreed standard in the Council’s Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience Action Plan.

The Club’s proposal brings with it a range of health and wellbeing benefits for the community and those wishing to grow within the sport. However, the consultation focuses on the land disposal rather than the future use of the land. This is not a development site and as such no construction will take place.”

The consultation can be found at https://www.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/news/notice-ofintended-
disposal-of-open-space-land/

Editor’s Note:
Contact:
Becky Howat
Communications and Engagement
Somerset West and Taunton Council
r.howat@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk
01823 219772
www.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk

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