Rugby club in multi-million pound move to Frenchay

Ray Bowden and Richard Grant of Dings Crusaders Rugby Club next to the ground opposite Frenchay Hospital

Ray Bowden and Richard Grant of Dings Crusaders Rugby Club next to the ground opposite Frenchay Hospital

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A RUGBY club is to invest in brand new facilities on the edge of Frenchay.

Dings Crusaders RFC plans to build a new ground, training facilities and clubhouse on a former market garden in a multi-million pound investment for the village which will be available for community use.

The club, which is desperate for a new home as its current home in Lockleaze has been branded unsuitable and beyond repair, has signed a lease on the land on Frenchay Park Road opposite the old Frenchay Hospital site.

Ray Bowden, director of Lockleaze Recreation Ground and rugby club president, aid: “After 10 years of searching we have at last found a suitable site and having reached agreement with Redrow Homes to develop our existing site it now all depends on securing the necessary planning permissions.

“It has been a long time coming but now we have a clear route forward and our energies have to be channelled into making this fantastic opportunity a reality.”

He said the new site, between the former hospital site and the M32, will be known as Shaftesbury Park after The Shaftesbury Crusade, a Christian mission founded in the area between Barton Hill and Temple Meads which encouraged sporting activity.

Added Mr Bowden: “It is sufficiently large enough to accommodate our playing, training and community requirements for years to come.

“It will also allow us to develop our activities in related fields including expanding our playing base to include ladies and youth rugby, focusing on associated sporting interests such as referee coaching, and enhancing our community interests including working with local schools.

“We have an active programme sketched out and look forward to telling local groups and organisations about what we want to achieve both on and off the field, and how we can integrate with our new neighbours. Engaging and consulting with local communities will be key in the process moving forward.”

The club said it had chosen the land as it was close to its existing home at Landseer Avenue, which has been home to the Dings for over 60 years.

“The new facilities are in the same South Gloucestershire Council ward – Frenchay and Stoke Park – and have been chosen for their proximity to the Lockleaze site,” said Mr Bowden.

“We have a broad base of members living across north Bristol, South Gloucestershire and beyond with very few actually living near the existing ground.

“We are aware that there will be members who might have to travel slightly further but we will be talking to them to explore how we can help them with transport and, importantly, make it sustainable.”

Plans for the new site are currently being drawn up and the consultation process is expected to start in July although meetings with local community and other groups have already started.

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