BIG SCHEME: The site of the new pitches being proposed
BIG SCHEME: The site of the new pitches being proposed

PLANS to create a £1million sports facility adjacent to Teesdale School and The Hub were described as “brilliant” when they were presented to town councillors last week.

The scheme, which has four partners – Barnard Castle Rugby Club, Durham County Council, the TCR Hub and Teesdale School – was presented by Andy Howard, project lead manager for the rugby club.

The plan to move the town’s rugby club to a new complex, situated on land owned by Durham County Council would see the creation of two rugby pitches, a clubhouse, car parking and an all-weather sports ground.

Mr Howard said: “We believe we can provide a facility for between £750,000 and £1million and this is what we will set out to raise – and that is everything.

That is the maximum we would spend.

“If the budget doesn’t stretch to a stone finished building, we will put up what we can afford.

“We will create a design that we feel will work for our budget.

“Everything has to be financially sustainable and that is something we agree on. We won’t be back with cap in hand asking for more money from people who have helped us fundraise.”

He explained the project was born out of the need to address “welfare and safety issues” to ensure the club can grow and be sustainable for the future.

Mr Howard said RFU regulation changes meant the need to upgrade club facilities was important to secure its future.

He said: “The club has for years used pitches on the upper Demesnes and it has been great. However we are now fielding a number of youth teams as well as girls and ladies teams and with our clubhouse some distance away in Birch Road it is an issue.

“We have welfare issues. As a club we can’t host rugby festivals as we don’t have facilities pitch side.

“There are no changing rooms there, no toilets, nowhere to give treatment and nowhere for people to shelter when it is cold.

“We have issues taking the kids across two roads from the clubhouse to get to the pitches. We have kids playing, some as young as five years old and they have nowhere to go when it is cold.

“To be fair the clubs we play against are understanding, but we have had some clubs who won’t play against us because of this.

“And because of this we can’t flourish as a club.”

Mr Howard said the club had looked at refurbishing the existing clubhouse to improve changing room facilities, but this would not address the issue of being so far away from the games.

He said providing a clubhouse next to the pitches would help the sustainability of the club by generating income. He added: “Presently Costa [Coffee] makes more money from our matches than the club does.”

He said no formal plans had been drawn up because the club did not want to waste funds on architects before being able to gauge the reaction from the community, adding an open meeting to discuss the plans will be held on Thursday, February 28, at The Hub at 8pm.

Chairwoman of Barnard Castle’s partnership committee, Cllr Judi Sutherland, said it was an ambitious plan, but pointed out the facility fell outside of the council’s boundary.

Cllr Ian Kirkbride said: “It’s a no brainer – get on with it.”

Cllr Tim Raw said: “It’s an absolutely brilliant plan and I really hope it works.”

Cllr Roger Peat said access to the complex would have to be looked at as it was currently single track.

Cllr Peat also felt the car parking was inadequate.

Cllr Sandra Moorhouse said: “We can agree to the general idea in principal to help with funding.”