Whitebank development

HAVING made “significant” progress on the proposed development of their Whitebank ground, Oldham Rugby League Club aim to submit a planning application to the October meeting of Oldham Council’s planning committee.

Plans include a new stand with seats on the same side as the existing main stand; terracing down the Whitebank Road side and at the southern end of the ground; plus new and additional turnstiles, toilets and a catering facility.
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A team of professionals assisting the club comprises Matthew Collings of Eversheds, senior associate solicitor who specialises in planning law; John Francis of DPP, executive director of planning; Rob Ogden of Capita, quantity surveyor; Steve Winterbottom of Nicol Thomas, architects; and Phil Mayall, development surveyor of Muse Developments, Salford Quay.

Oldham-born Phil used to play amateur rugby league for Waterhead and Saddleworth Rangers and supported the former Oldham RL Club at Watersheddings for many years when he was a boy.

Said Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton: “The club is extremely fortunate to have such an experienced team of professionals operating on its behalf.

“I am aware of the frustrations that people have had in waiting for news of this ground development, but a huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes and will continue to do so.

“It has taken up a not inconsiderable part of my working schedules for a long time, but things are progressing significantly now and we have made good progress despite operating against the tide of an unprecedented economic downturn.

“Hopefully, the planning application will be approved and things will then be able to take shape. It will be the culmination of many months of hard work.

“Development will take place in phases because of the economic climate.

“As soon as we are in a position to release more information publicly we will be delighted to do so.”

Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd was formed as a brand-new club in the late autumn of that year following the liquidation of Oldham Bears, which had been variously called Oldham Football Club, Oldham Rugby League Club, Oldham RL Club Ltd and Oldham Bears during its 120-year existence.

That club had sold its spiritual home at Watersheddings 18 months before it went bust with debts of more than £1million.

The new club was launched from scratch, with neither hand-outs nor hand-downs, and led a nomadic existence for 12 and a half seasons.

It played on numerous grounds across the region, mainly at Boundary Park, Spotland (Rochdale), Hurst Cross (Ashton) and Sedgley Park (Whitefield) before moving permanently to the Whitebank Stadium on the edge of Limehurst Village in the Spring of 2010.

Mr Hamilton said then: “This is an historic day for the club. It is now up to us to seize the moment and make the most of the dawn of a new era.

“We hope the move to Whitebank will provide the springboard from which the club can take a leap into a long and successful future.”