Big step forward for £23m Warriors stadium revolution
14 December 2006 15:35pm
How the Sixways complex will look.
The £23m development of Worcester Rugby Club's Sixways stadium complex has moved a step closer after the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, decided not to intervene with the application.
She says the scheme - which includes a new North Stand, a health centre and racquet club, a new car park, and replacement training pitches - meets planning policy guidelines relating to green belt development, public transport access, and the provision of sports and leisure facilities.
That leaves the final decision to Wychavon District Council - which has already passed the plans unanimously.
It also means that Worcestershire County Council can now apply for permission to use the proposed new car parking as a park-and-ride facility for the city.
And it is the trigger for the club and its partners to ink in key stages of the action plan that will transform Sixways.
Drainage works have already been complete behind the position of the proposed North Stand, and the rerouting of Barbourne Brook will begin early in the new year.
When the complex is complete, for the start of the 2008-2009 season, Warriors will have one of the best club rugby stadiums in England, with a capacity of 13,200.
The North Stand will boast an open concourse with concessions stands, a shop, ticket office and toilets, as well as a hospitality suite, kitchen and toilets on the first floor, and balconies and bars on the second. From this floor, up to the third, will be seating for 1,860. There will also be space for 3,174 standing spectators.
The Esporta sports and leisure complex, between the East Stand and Pershore Lane, will include an outdoor pool and tennis courts, two of which will be covered by an inflatable dome, and a 250-space car park.
Inside, there will be a tennis hall, with six courts, a multi-purpose sports hall, a 25mn indoor pool, and a gym.
If separate planning permission is given, the new car park behind the stadium will become a park-and-ride site for the city, with fans having exclusive use on match days.
"It has been the most complex project I've been involved with," said club chairman Cecil Duckworth. "Dealing with the different agencies and, at the same time, meeting the requirements for the club, Esporta and Worcestershire County Council to enable them to have a park-and-ride facility at Sixways on non match days, has been very time-consuming.
"However, once the new road system's installed and the other facilities are complete, we'll have a fabulous site and getting to the ground will be considerably improved, together with a quality car park.
"We look forward to getting rid of the problems of mud, and so on, which is a continual battle at the moment. We hope to start the work on the new roadworks and car parking in the spring and for this to be completed by the beginning of next season, when work will start on the Esporta complex and the North Stand, which will be completed in the autumn of 2008.
"I'm certainly looking forward to the day when it's completed, and I'm sure it will be well-received by our supporters and everyone involved with the club."
Warriors youngsters Huw Taylor and Jack Singleton will start for England in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship final against Ireland this Saturday night at Sale Sharks' AJ Bell Stadium (kick-off 7pm).
Worcester Warriors Chief Executive Jim O'Toole has dismissed suggestions made in a national newspaper that the Club is pulling back on its long-term financial commitment to become an established Aviva Premiership Club.