RUNCORN Rowing Club says it is ‘not celebrating just yet’ despite planning chiefs giving approval to its proposed new club house.

The council’s development management committee backed the project at a meeting yesterday evening, but there will be a delay while the application is referred the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after it raised concerns over the Cholmondeley Road site’s proximity to a high pressure gas main located 15.5 metres away.

The HSEs previously said there were 'sufficient reasons on safety grounds' for advising against the granting of planning permission. But in a report to the committee, planning officers said the HSE's advice did not outweigh the benefits that would result from the enhanced facility. The HSE now has 21 days to decide whether to refer the plans to the Secretary of State.

Sue Sljivic, development coordinator for the project, said: “Whilst we await the HSE decision we are not in a position to celebrate just yet.”

She added: “Runcorn Rowing Club, Liverpool University Boat Club, Runcorn Canoe Club, Runcorn Sea Cadets and the Schools that row at the club, OBA (Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy ) and Merchant Taylors' School are in desperate need of improved facilities.”

The scheme has been in development since the end of 2020, with £60,000 being raised for the application through club fundraising efforts, from individual sponsors and via support from RSK Group. The new facilities would include changing rooms, gym, social areas as well as ground floor boat and canoe storage.

The club has existed since 1894 and if given the go ahead, will seek further funding for the £1.5m development.

Thanking those who had contributed so far, she added: “We are delighted that the scheme has gained approval.

"Once we have received clearance from the HSE we will commence with site investigation and detailed structural design before appointing construction contractors.”