Rugby club could be set for new home

A “mad-keen rugby fan” is in talks about developing a new home for Hadleigh Rugby Club to accommodate its growing numbers.

Paul Price, an Irish businessman who lived in Hadleigh for a number of years, met Hadleigh Town Council members on Thursday to discuss his ideas for developing wasteland he owns in Hook Lane.

Mr Price’s preliminary plans include building housing and creating a public open space, as well as providing two pitches and buildings for the club, which currently shares Layham Road Sports Ground with Hadleigh United Football Club and Hadleigh Cricket Club.

Jim Hammond, development officer at Hadleigh Rugby Club, said: “I brought the idea to Mr Price’s attention because we are looking at the possibility of moving locations and expanding, as we are outgrowing our current location.

“Mr Price is a mad-keen rugby fan and he lived in Hadleigh for a long time before moving back to Ireland. He used to play rugby for Sudbury and would come to watch Hadleigh, too.”

Mr Hammond said the club had around 70 senior playing members and 170 youth members who play on Sundays.

“That is set to grow to nearer 200 next season – our youth section is very big,” he said.

“The meeting on Thursday was purely an informal discussion with the town council, to make it aware of the idea.

“It was for information purposes as we would like to get it on board as soon as possible.”

Mr Hammond, who has been involved at Hadleigh Rugby Club for seven years and who is a former member of Sudbury Rugby Club, said: “This would be a positive thing for Hadleigh.

“It is a great opportunity for the club and the town.”

Mr Price is understood to want to investigate levels of public support for the possible development, with informal discussions between Hadleigh Town Council and the businessman set to continue.

The town council’s website says that the Layham Road Sports Ground comprises 12 acres of land – providing soccer, rugby and hockey pitches, an artificial cricket wicket, a floodlit all-weather multi-sports facility and three tennis courts.

The pavilion houses changing rooms and players’ showers.

Brian Riley, district and county councillor for Hadleigh, said: “The expansion of leisure facilities for young people is a good thing.

“Hadleigh continues to grow and there are tremendous pressures on facilities in the town.”

Mr Riley said 500 houses were expected to be built by 2020 and the population would top 10,000 people in the near future.

“I have spoken to the rugby club and to Hadleigh United and they are both very conscious about the pressures on sports and leisure facilities,” he said.

“Any expansion should be welcomed – Mr Price should be commended for his public-spirited attitude and I say more power to his elbow.”