London Irish Seek Permission to Play Rugby at Lionel Road

Current planning consent does not allow sport to be played at new stadium

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London Irish Rugby Club have announced that they are to seek an amendment to the planning application for the Brentford Community Stadium to allow rugby to be played there.

The original application to build Brentford FC's new ground on Lionel Road stipulated that planning permission would be needed for rugby matches to be held there. London Irish have now submitted a formal Section 73 application to Hounslow Council to ascertain whether a rugby use of the stadium is possible.

They said, "We will continue to keep supporters and stakeholders updated with any further developments."

The rugby club announced this August that they were in discussions with Brentford FC about playing their matches in the 20,000 capacity stadium which the club hope to open in 2019. Having recently secured a Compulsory Purchase Order for part of the site that they did not own, the football club hope to start construction next year.

In a statement Brentford FC said, "The Brentford Community Stadium vision is to have a new 20,000 seater stadium for both professional football and rugby, subject to the relevant planning permissions. This vision was clearly stated in the original planning application and in the public exhibitions held in 2013. Brentford Football Club welcomes the London Irish application which takes the Club a step closer to achieving this vision."

There has been speculation that the ground share deal would also involve London Irish taking an equity stake in the stadium.

The application is being made under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which allows the variation or remove conditions associated with a planning permission. These can be employed for 'minor material' amendments.

London Irish, who were relegated to rugby’s second tier last season, currently play in Reading. They say a move to Brentford when the stadium is completed is one of several options they have considered. They are contracted to play at Reading until 2025-6 but have a break clause which would allow them to switch grounds should they wish.

When London Irish were playing in the Premiership their attendances averaged 12-14,000 compared to Brentford’s which has recently been over 10,000. However, this season London Irish will be playing in the rugby championship and their crowds likely to be smaller until they gain promotion. They currently top the table having won all six of their games so far this season.

October 14, 2016

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