RESIDENTS objecting to a rugby club using its grounds as a campsite have forced a postponement of the decision.

People living on Raygarth, Kirkby Lonsdale, convinced South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee to defer the application.

Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Union Football Club applied to change the use of the land from May 1 to September 1 to allow camping for caravans, campervans and tents. South Lakeland planning officers recommended the go-ahead.

But residents said the ‘unauthorised’ use over the last two years was ‘out of control’ with traffic levels ‘intolerable,’ and the residential road was often ‘gridlocked’.

Shirley Boyd, of Raygarth, told the planning committee: “The type of traffic experienced is significantly different to that during the rugby season. These vehicles are very large motorhomes or very large motor vehicles pulling very large caravans,” said Mrs Boyd. “I must stress the impact of there being no supervision on-site once campers and caravanners have pitched up.”

Councillors heard claims that over the August Bank Holiday weekend there had been ‘dogs running loose on the site, open fires and noise’.

Resident Lesley Taylor said camping had caused an ‘enormous increase’ in traffic on roads not built to cope with the size of vehicles being used.

Mrs Taylor said: “I would argue Raygarth residents have been extremely tolerant with the rugby club over the years. They state there are 250 to 300 vehicles per weekend – that is only for eight months of the year. There is also daily traffic all year-round and numerous functions and deliveries. I think the figures the rugby club guesstimates for the number of vehicles to visit if the site gets the go-ahead are wide of the mark.”

SLDC planning officer Andrew Martin suggested the temporary application be allowed for a year to allow the council to ‘closely monitor’ the issue and come up with a way of ‘regulating’ what took place.

Mr Martin stressed that the club was in breach of planning controls, but was not ‘breaking planning law,’ although he said he understood residents’ frustrations.

“Clearly these events are a valuable source of income to the club and we wouldn’t want to arbitrarily curtail those activities,” added Mr Martin.

Cllr Pete McSweeney, planning committee chairman, said: “The deferral doesn’t mean to say that temporary planning permission wouldn’t be granted for next summer. All we are saying is that members want more information so that we’re in a position to make a more informed decision in the coming months.”

Panel member Cllr Kevin Lancaster added: “This is a difficult situation and I am certainly acquainted with people on all sides of this. It’s long seemed to me that the inter-relationship between the club and residents on Raygarth has been an issue.”