By Lilian Young
Concern is growing among Crookes residents over proposals to transform one of their much loved parks into a rugby pitch.
Hallamshire Rugby Club have recently moved into the old Mercury Taxi offices on Northfield Road and plan to change the premises into changing rooms and develop a new pitch in neighbouring Bolehill Park, Crookes.
The changes will be taking place from January 2017.
Adam Hanrahan, councillor for Crookes and Crosspool said: “This is fantastic news for the local area and local sport.”
The club has plans to erect a fence around the pitch in order to keep it free from dog waste and eventually turn the changing rooms into a licensed clubhouse.
This has sparked concern for some park goers who believe the proposed plans will block access to the field which is used by many members of the community such as dog walkers and families.
Resident Katie Murray said: “I visit Bolehill at least twice a day to walk my dog and often use the top field where the new rugby pitch will be.”
“I’ve spoken to other regular dog walkers and we feel let down that the council or the club haven’t thought to ask those who use the park their thoughts before going ahead. Fencing off the top field will greatly reduce the space in which our pets can exercise.”
Cllr Hanrahan clarified that as there are already football pitches on the field the rugby club do not need permission to create a pitch but explained that in order for a fence to be built a public consultation would need to be held.
Dog owner Michael Hall said: “It’s frustrating that the club are creating a ‘them and us’ scenario, it’s only a few dog owners that don’t pick up their dogs muck. We’re as annoyed by it as them.”
Tom Helliwell, chairman of the Hallamshire Rugby Club commented: “We’ve spoken to a lot of the passing users and have had a pretty positive response so far.”
“The idea being that as a community club Hallamshire RUFC will play a wider role in the life of the park, helping out with events and work days as well as hopefully providing rugby union for a variety of ages in the area which currently there is no provision for.”