OLDHAM Rugby League Club have announced a major breakthrough in their ambitious plans to redevelop the Whitebank Stadium.
Said to be of “quantum leap” proportions, it relates to the planning authority’s written agreement that the scheme will not require Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening, thus saving the club considerable work, time and expense.
“This is a hugely significant milestone on the road to scheme completion,” said Mark Aylward, a Dobcross-based director of planning consultants DPP, who are acting on the club’s behalf.
One of the UK’s biggest consultancies, DPP operates in all development sectors of town planning, but notably in residential, retail, regeneration, business and commercial.
Mr Aylward added: “We were instructed by the club to take the Whitebank plans forward and as part of that process we have been negotiating with planning officers on EIA.
“We have now received confirmation that it will not be required when we submit the plans. This is an extremely positive step forward for all concerned.”
The club is planning to provide additional seating in a new stand on one side of the ground; concrete terracing on the other side; extra turnstiles; and new toilet and refreshment facilities.
Chris Hamilton, the club chairman, is working closely with DPP and the club’s other professional consultants on a scheme that has the potential to transform the Roughyeds’ future prospects.
He said: “We’ve taken a quantum leap here.
“After a long period of hard work with little to show for it in tangible terms, this is a major development and great news to pass on to the fans.
“We are grateful to Mark and DPP and also to the rest of our team of consultants for all the work they are continuing to do on our behalf.
“Had we needed the EIA it would have left us with considerably more work and expense, but we now have a confirmed position in terms of the scheme and the work that has to be done and we can press ahead with our plans to upgrade the facilities.
“It is extremely encouraging to be able to pass on good news like this to supporters, who can be assured that we are working hard to maintain this progress.
“In the meantime, 2013 season tickets are now on sale and fans have an opportunity to provide the club with much-needed revenue in the close season and to show their support for Scott (new head coach Naylor) as we prepare for the new season.”
Fixtures for 2013 will be released on Monday and in conjunction with the RFL the Roughyeds’ first fixture of the season will be tweeted to all the club’s Twitter followers (club name: @roughyeds) at 1pm on Friday.
*Championship One new boys Oxford, coached by former Oldham boss Tony Benson, have forged a partnership with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
They believe they will benefit from close ties with one of Super League’s most progressive clubs as they bid to develop the sport in Oxfordshire.