Rugby club’s temporary home is so critical for future of several groups

Bridgnorth Rugby Club have called on Shropshire Council to approve a planning ‘variation’ that would see their marquee kept open all year round – with chairman Karen Sawbridge insisting it is ‘critical’ for local clubs to survive.

Bridgnorth Tae Kwon-Do using the marquee
Bridgnorth Tae Kwon-Do using the marquee

The All Blacks had planning permission granted last year to put up a marquee at their Edgar Davies ground between March and October to be used for functions.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, a number of sports clubs in the town have been using the outside marquee to operate, as they could not continue to train indoors.

The rugby club contacted the council in September to arrange for the marquee to stay up all year to allow the clubs to continue to train and after applying for a ‘variation’ to the conditions, they are awaiting a response.

Now, Sawbridge has called on the council to keep the valuable community asset alive. She said: “We have a lot of clubs using it, such as the Tae Kwon-Do club, several different fitness classes, gymnastics groups and the sewing club – among others. It’s absolutely wonderful and we should be telling the world this is what we’re doing.

“We have all these clubs, that are a vital asset to the community, that can’t use their normal facilities. I contacted Shropshire Council to ask how we can keep it open and we waited 10 weeks for a response. I think that’s really poor service.

“We put in a variation to the council to outline the need to keep it open and we had the clubs using the marquee write letters on why it must stay up. They were fantastic letters. The marquee has been absolutely critical for these clubs and I feel quite saddened that I gave Shropshire Council notice that this was happening and it feels as if they are not behind us.

“These sports clubs have no home at the moment because of Covid-19, but they have a temporary home in the marquee. It’s absolutely essential that the planners find in favour of the variation to allow us to keep it up throughout the year.

“We’re optimistic that they will find in our favour. The clubs need it to survive.”

Edge Gymnastics and Bridgnorth Tae Kwon-Do are among several groups who have written to the council calling on the marquee to stay up – describing it as a ‘God-send’ ‘invaluable asset’.

A spokesman for Shropshire Council said: “Shropshire Council granted planning permission to the Rugby Club for the temporary siting of a marquee for a period of five years on August 9, 2019.

“Condition two of the planning permission restricts the times the marquee can be used to a period between March 16 and October 31.

“The club could apply for planning permission to vary condition two and the impacts of extending the use of the marquee would then be considered.”

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