Talks open on rugby club’s future

Talks are taking place between Malvern Hills District Council and Malvern Rugby Football Club about the possibility of finding a new home for the club.

Council and club officials are discussing a joint venture which would help secure and expand the long-term future of Rugby Union in the district, as well as provide new opportunities for businesses.

Under the proposal being discussed, Malvern Hills District Council would help pay for the relocation of the club and construction of a purpose built ground with modern facilities, which Malvern RFC would then pay rent on.

In return, the club’s existing Spring Lane home would provide employment land to support the growth of the local economy

It is also hoped additional funding from various sporting organisations can be attracted to help reduce the cost to the council taxpayer.

Malvern RFC needs to move as there are a number of issues with its current home. The club’s youth section is rapidly expanding with more than 200 youth players already playing the game.

However, further growth will be difficult on the current site due to a lack of space.

There are also issues with a lack of car parking and facilities to support the development of the ladies team. Improved, modern facilities would also allow the club to find new ways of generating money to help make it financially stable, long-term.

A number of sites are being explored by the council, although a piece of land off Blackmore Park Road owned by Worcestershire County Council, looks to be the preferred option at this stage.

As talks are at such an early stage there is no timescale for the project and the cost is not yet known as designs are currently being worked up. It is hoped that information will be available early in 2017.

A number of hurdles still have to be passed before the project can go ahead including getting approval from both councillors and members of Malvern RFC, as well as planning permission.

Cllr Phil Grove, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council, said: “We’re at the very beginning of what could be a very exciting project for the district. We wanted to be honest and up front with residents about these discussions, which is why we have released details at this early stage.

“I believe this could not only provide first class facilities to help grow the game of Rugby Union in the district but offer new opportunities for businesses to invest and create jobs. It has to add up financially though, so when we get that detail we will be scrutinising the costs carefully to make sure it is a solid investment for the council taxpayer.”

John Holden, Chairman of Malvern Rugby Football Club, said: “We are very pleased to be in preliminary talks with Malvern Hills District Council regarding a possible re-location of the club from our current site at Spring Lane.

“Our youth section continues to grow year on year and our current pitches and parking arrangements are not all they should be. This, and a number of other factors, has caused us to examine whether other locations may be more suitable for the long-term benefit of the club.”