Rugby pitch plans spark concerns in Sheffield neighbourhood

A Sheffield rugby club has sent assurances that their new pitch plans won't stop people accessing a much-loved park in one city neighbourhood.

Friday, 30th September 2016, 11:38 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 3:53 pm
Crookes residents have growing concerns that a fence could be erected around the top field of Bolehill Recreation Ground which could prevent public access due to Hallamshire Rugby Club using the field for a pitch. Picture: Andrew Roe

Concerns were raised amid rumours that Hallamshire Rugby Club were planning to develop a new pitch on the top field in Bolehill Park, Crookes.

Many 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 have confirmed that the field will be used as a pitch from January 2017.

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But they have stated that any fence would not prevent access and would need to go to a public consultation before being erected.

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."

A councillor, who did not wish to be named, said: "Why this hasn't been publicised and why the views of regular uses have not been sought. Is it because they know there would be objections?

"Sheffield Council make much of the fact we should all move more and take regular exercise and yet they are planning to take part of a very popular public open space."

As the area has previously been used for football pitches, the club is free to erect rugby posts.

Tom Helliwell, chairman of Hallamshire Rugby Club, who currently do not have a pitch, said they were considering erecting 'waist-high' fencing around the pitch in a bid to keep the area free from dog feces.

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 school children 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 are are keen to work with - not against - everybody involved."

Coun Mary Lea cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “We are in discussions with the Hallamshire Rugby Club regarding their potential use of part of the playing fields at Bolehill Park. 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.”