HENLEY Rugby Club wants to refurbish and extend its clubhouse.
The new-look building would have a new bar, kitchen and toilets and it would be made more energy efficient. It would also be reconfigured to seat up to 200 diners.
The single-storey extension would include four new changing rooms, showers and toilets, player treatment rooms and rooms for match officials.
The development would mean the loss of 19 parking spaces but more than 150 would still be available for use on match days.
The club, which rents its ground at Dry Leas, off Marlow Road, from Henley Town Council, has submitted a planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council.
Hawks’ chairman Mike Trethewey told the town council’s planning committee that the work was necessary.
“The clubhouse is an old building,” he said. “It is not in bad nick but internally and externally it needs a considerable amount of work. We propose having a 200-seat dining area because before every home game we have a lunch. Internally we want to change the configuration, move the kitchen from looking over the pitch to the back and reconfigure the bar and improve all the internal facilities.
“Externally, we want to improve the appearance of the building because it shows its age. We also want to increase the energy efficiency of the building by adding cladding, double glazing and solar panels.”
Mr Trethewey said the new changing rooms would be to a high standard as required by the Rugby Football Union and would give the players better access to the pitch than the current changing rooms which are in another building further away.
He said: “At the moment they have to traipse the whole length of the clubhouse, through people trying to eat and drink.”
He said the work would improve the facility not just for the rugby club but also for the wider community that uses it, adding: “We want to make a better community experience.”
Mr Trethewey said the loss of parking spaces would not be felt because the car park was not as well-used by the public during the week as the club hoped.
He said: “We have been working with South Oxfordshire District Council to improve the use of the car park, which is at about 30 to 40 per cent — it is not good. We have improved the signage and we would like to improve it more.
“People are just lazy — they want to park at Waitrose but it is just a five-minute walk into town from the club and we want to encourage that. We are going to take some of the spaces but there will still be plenty of capacity.”
Mayor Martin Akehurst, who is a member of the club, said: “I think it is an excellent idea. The club is a great asset to Henley — it does a lot for kids and any bar refurbishment gets my unrestricted support.”
Councillor Sam Evans, who is also a member of the club, said: “In terms of numbers of people, I think the capacity is 140 for the lunches but there is certainly scope to do more. It is not exactly going to open as a nightclub!
“Even if, with improved car parking, they doubled the usage it still would not be 100 per cent full. To encourage more use and improve the facilities there is a no-brainer.”
Councillor David Clenshaw said he would be sorry to lose the parking spaces but he still considered the plans to be “reasonable”.
The committee recommended the application is approved. The district council will make the final decision by September 15.
• The Hawks lost their pre-season friendly match against local rivals London Welsh at Dry Leas on Saturday.