Herts Baseball Club has secured planning permission from Dacorum Borough Council for its Grovehill Ballpark Project.  This means that the Club has managed to overcome a crucial hurdle in its path to successfully completing the project to create two baseball fields that would be among the best facilities in the UK.

With the pro bono assistance of Emma Burrow, of Property Lande Architecture, a local architect firm, the Club submitted its planning application in early September.  Whether it is a large shopping complex, residential buildings or a sports venue such as Grovehill Ballpark, obtaining a planning permission can be a big challenge.  Club President, Aspi Dimitrov, recalls the early weeks of the application process: “This was the first time that our club has been involved in applying for a planning permission and the Club’s Executive Board expected to have a daunting task of convincing local residents, private and public organisations and officials of the obvious benefits of the Grovehill Ballpark project for the community.”

“But we were very pleasantly surprised by the astonishing support which was received from pretty much everyone that we contacted as part of the consultation process.  From governing bodies such as BaseballSoftballUK and the British Baseball Federation, to local and national organisations and agencies such as Sport England, Dacorum Borough Council, Dacorum Sports Network, Herts Sports Partnership, the Police, the Mayor Cllr Mrs. Carol Green, our local MP, Mike Penning, not forgetting the hundreds of individuals who signed the paper and online petitions supporting the project including Head Coach, Stephan Rapaglia, and players of the European Championships silver medal-winning Great Britain Team, as well as players of baseball clubs from around the country.  The support was astounding.”

Dimitrov added:  “Over the years the members of our club knew that we are creating something very special and that we are building a good name and reputation, but we never realised that our work and activities have been noticed and are recognized by so many people, and that the name Herts Baseball would open so many doors.”

“Despite this great support we were aware that a planning application is a complicated legal process, and the presence of Emma Burrow has been vital.  Her guidance from day one has been pivotal.”- said Dimitrov.

On Thursday evening Dacorum Borough Council’s Planning Committee met to consider and announce their final decision.  The Executive Board of Herts Baseball Club received the all important telephone call just after 8pm, confirming that the application has been successful.

This clears the way for the first stage of the project to be completed in 2009.  The members of the club have raised around £16,000 over the last seven months, including the £10,000 Awards for All grant and around £6,000 raised in club fundraising events and initiatives.  It means that the club has secured the funds required for the first stage of the project and are now continuing the fundraising effort for the second stage which involves improving the turf quality of Grovehill Ballpark.

Dimitrov added: “When the planning application was prepared it included several additional elements and now that it has been approved, this opens the door for future improvement of the Ballpark.  For example the application included the full fence enclosure of the two diamonds, not just the backstops and the outfield parts of the fence, which will go a long way towards deterring vandalism and providing a better and more secure environment for our Little League teams.  We now have the freedom to plan and raise funds for stage 3, stage 4 etc. in the future, knowing that we have clearance, from a legal perspective.”

[more about the Grovehill Ballpark Project]

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