New centre of excellence plans agreed for London Irish

London Irish training ground London Irish chief executive Andy Martin has revealed that the successful planning application for a centre of excellence in Sunbury will go a long way to assuring the club’s long-term future.
The Exiles’ discovered on Thursday that Spelthorne Council had approved their  application for the Hazelwood Golf Club site where they want to set up a new training centre including five pitches.
And Martin, who expects to see Irish move into their new training home for the start of the 2015-16 season, is confident the new centre will benefit the club on and off the pitch.
“We are delighted that the application has gone through, it’s really been a long road to get to this point,” said Martin.
“It means we can push on with the plans for the centre of excellence and training centre which we haven’t  been able to do while we were waiting on this decision.
“The idea is for the centre to be ready at the end of the 2014 calendar year so we can move in for the start of the 2015-16 season.
“It will have a huge impact for the club, it gives us a training centre that can be a big draw for future players and also enable us to grow our own even more.
“When we are talking to players we can show them a state-of-the-art facility.
“It puts the club on a much surer financial footing.”
It’s been a difficult battle for the Exiles with support and resistance coming in equal measure from the Sunbury residents.
But while there has been some vocal opposition to the plans, Martin revealed that a housing scheme set up with local residents at the current training ground at The Avenue was the key to getting the new centre approved.
He added: “There has always been a lot of support for us in the Sunbury area; a lot of the residents around the current training ground are members of the club.
“But there is a vocal section of the residents who have been opposed to it so we have had to work with them.
“We have agreed a housing scheme at the Avenue which has been planned through discussion with the residents and, having worked hard, we think we have found a solution.
“This move will not affect our matchdays and our deal at the Madejski in Reading which we are very happy with.
“At the moment that deal will run until 2026, but this is an important step for us as a club going forward.
“It’s great news for the whole London Irish family with an increased link between the club’s professional and amateur sections.”
PAUL EDDISON

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