A Sheffield rugby club today assured families their new pitch plans will not stop them accessing a much-loved park.
Concerns were raised amid rumours Hallamshire Rugby Club was planning to develop a new pitch on the top field in Bolehill park, Crookes.
Residents were alarmed at plans to build a fence around the pitch – which they feared could block public access to the field.
The club and Sheffield Council confirmed the field will be used as a pitch from January 2017. But it said any fence would not prevent access and public consultation would be carried out.
Resident Margaret Nalty said: “The top field is well used by the community, by dog walkers, spontaneous football matches, for picnics in summer and so on.
“Fencing the area off, no matter how high, would ruin the ambiance of the field completely.”
The area has been used for football pitches so the club is free to erect rugby posts.
Tom Helliwell, chairman of the club, who do not have a pitch, said they were considering erecting ‘waist-high’ fencing to keep the pitch free from dog muck.
He said: “We would like the pitch to be used by schools in the area who do not have access to any green space. A small fence would allow us to keep the area dog free, so schoolchildren could use it for all kinds of exercise.”
Tom, who lives in Crookes, added: “We want this to be a positive thing for the community and are keen to work with – not against – everybody involved.”
Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield Council, said they were ‘in discussions’ with the club.
She added: “Part of the proposal would be the possibility of waist-height fencing with self-closing gates in order to keep the space dog free.
“However, we will consult with local people on these proposals before any decisions are made, to make sure that everyone can continue to enjoy spending time in the park.”