Monday, 20 September 2021

Good not enough, councillors tell Hawks

THE redevelopment of Henley Rugby Club would no longer be viable if it was forced to comply with the highest environmental standards, a club director has warned.

The club unveiled its new clubhouse in September and is now planning to add a changing room block at Dry Leas, costing £300,000.

It is seeking permission to lower the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method rating from “very good” to “good”.

BREEM is a method of assessing, rating and certifying the sustainability of buildings.

Facilities director Chris Nixon told a meeting of the town council’s planning committee: “The potential to get a very good rating would be very difficult because of the size of the building and also the position of the extension and the site itself.

“The extra cost to do the works would be in excess of £30,000, which would make the project unviable.”

Councillor Simon Smith, who chairs the committee, said the club should have known about the regulations.

He said: “The people who put in the application knew damn well what the requirements are.”

Councillor Jane Smewing said: “I wonder whether the rugby club has been that well served by their professional advice. No one is asking them to use the pitch to grow biofuels.

“Rugby players leaving the changing rooms are either desperate to get on the pitch or get in the bar. They are not going to think, ‘am I the last one in the changing room, I must switch off the lights’.

“There must be easier things they can do that are less expensive than £30,000.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton added: “We have some experts in the town in energy. They might be able to suggest a few things.

“It is not necessarily the rugby club’s fault but that might be a way forward.”

The committee turned down the club’s request to change the rating and recommended that South Oxfordshire District Council enforces it.

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