THE DALES' most successful rugby club, Wharfedale RUFC, has been refused permission to further develop its Threshfield ground by a Government planning inspector - a decision which has split the community in the Grassington area down the middle.
The enormous success of the small country club, which regularly takes on and beats hugely wealthy professional teams from major cities, has been a source of great pride for Dales sports fans for many years.
But many conservationists - and non-rugby-loving Threshfield locals - dislike the traffic and parking problems caused by home games and point out that the club lies next to one of the best loved, and most photographed, views in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, upstream from the Wharfe bridge which joins Threshfield and Grassington.
The club wants to build a new pitch but its application was rejected by the national park authority. Now, a Government planning inspector has rejected the club's appeal - a move welcomed by the park.
The inspector, David Rusdale, questioned the need for an additional pitch, when other options, including other pitches, already existed. He ruled that there were no special circumstances that would override the harm the new pitch would cause to the character and appearance of Wharfedale.
Park planning chief Peter Watson, commented: "This Authority has never been opposed to a new rugby pitch per se. Yet the site put forward in this case was clearly not suitable. The inspector saw it as an incongruous development in the open countryside, which would have been widely visible in views from across the valley."