Rugby club reaches ‘end of road’ in ground talks

19/1/04   Claro Road  the home of Harrogate Rugby Union club.
19/1/04 Claro Road the home of Harrogate Rugby Union club.

HARROGATE Rugby Club says it has reached “the end of the road” in negotiations with the developer that owns its ground.

Crest, which completed its purchase of the Claro Road site last year, has asked the club to leave the premises by June 1.

In a letter to club members, chairman Paul Barnard said: “The committee, with considerable regret, feels that it has reached the end of the road in trying to negotiate an agreement with Crest and as such the club now needs to prepare to vacate Claro Road by June 1.”

Crest paid £610,000 for the freehold on the site in 1999, to be followed by extra payments if planning permission for housing is granted.

The club says it has offered £1.043m to buy back the ground, but that Crest will only accept a bid of £1.2m.

Kevin Ellis, under U15s coach at the club, accused the developers of being “bully boys”.

“It would seem this big corporate company is trying to bully a community rugby club into accepting a deal on their terms or deny the opportunity of over 500 kids and adults the opportunity to play rugby,” he said.

A spokesman for Crest said it had long strived for a compromise acceptable to all parties that would include sporting provision. She added that it was “frustrating” the council had repeatedly rejected Crest’s proposals for the site.

“Therefore it was with reluctance that we concluded that in the interests of all parties, particularly the club members, the only sensible way forward was to call for possession at the end of the season now in order that we can prompt action and secure a sustainable future for the site,” she said.