Plans to improve facilities at Epping Upper Clapton Rugby Club have met with no objection from North Weald Bassett Parish Council.

The club wants to install a new all-weather pitch and function room, relocate its floodlights, demolish its old clubhouse and provide additional parking.

The plans include an an enabling development of nine properties – three semi-detached houses and a terrace of three houses – which would be built on a previously-used overflow car park.

Each property would have off-street parking and a rear private garden.

Rugby club chairman Paul Donnelly, speaking after last night's parish council meeting, said: "We are delighted with the response our plans received from the parish council and we thank the parish councillors for their support.

"Our plans will enable the club to move forward and we hope they receive the backing of district councillors when the application is considered."

Mr Donnelly, addressing the parish council's planning committee, described the club as "the largest sports club in Epping Forest".

He said: "We are a very open environment club. We support the community. We've been shut since March 14 however other sports have been able to go back in.

"We set up a COVID-19 testing station last week. Epping Town Football Club could not train pre-season so they've been training free of charge, Epping Youth the same.

"Active Essex are running six weeks of activities for children and last week they had on average 58 children a day.

"There is no sign of rugby coming back at the moment (because of the COVID-19 situation) but we can still make these facilities available."

Mr Donnelly added: "You can see what we are doing for the community. This would give us the finances to thrive not just to survive. We need this facility and so does the community."

He said there would be 218 parking spaces under the "new regime" compared to the current 98 spaces.

North Weald parish councillor Sheila Jackman told the meeting: "It is a community facility and they do seem to be doing a lot of work with young people in the community that isn't just rugby."

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