Welwyn Rugby Club clashes with residents over future of floodlights

PUBLISHED: 17:26 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 01 May 2019

Welwyn Rugby Club

Welwyn Rugby Club

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The future of floodlights at Welwyn Rugby Club will be determined by councillors after they were installed in the wrong place.

Welwyn Rugby ClubWelwyn Rugby Club

The rugby club was given the go-ahead to install 15m high floodlights at their Hobbs Way training pitch in 2016. However the four lights, which are seven metres higher than the ones they replaced, are between 1.5 and six metres away from their permitted positions.

During installation the position of the columns was moved to avoid having to 'break out' the existing concrete bases, and residents living close to the club's training ground have complained that light from the new floodlights now spills onto their properties.

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's development management committee met on Thursday, April 25 to discuss whether the lights could stay, after the rugby club submitted a further application.

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They decided unanimously that the item should be deferred to give the club an opportunity to talk to the residents.

After backing the decision to defer, Cllr Peter Hebden said: “If the residents and the rugby club can come to an agreement discussing various options then that is far preferable than a decision made by us that would disappoint one or the other, and nothing more.”

Welwyn Rugby Club president Mark Elliott stressed that the existing floodlights are no higher than the 15 metres permitted, and pointed to an offer to install light shields and to timers which have already been fitted to limit the hours of use: “Moving the lights by such a minimal distance would be expensive and it would achieve nothing – it would merely move the issue slightly closer to someone else's property.”

Cllr Helen Bromley, who initially raised the matter with the committee, said the floodlights are causing “significant harm” to residents, citing “substantial visual intrusion day or night”.

However Cllr Steven Markiewicz expressed doubts that either side will be fully satisfied. He said: “The only thing that can change is that the rugby club and the members of the local community – with hopefully the spirit of self sacrifice and concern for others – will be prepared to come to some kind of compromise and just live harmoniously together.”

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