Plans for a floodlit artificial community football pitch at Biggleswade are being refined to meet funding deadlines and to speed the process up.
The Bedfordshire Football Association’s chief executive officer Alan Young wrote to the town council explaining why its ambitions are being revised.
“Since initially exploring the Stratton Way recreation ground, we’ve reflected on the other possible sites, including Eagle Farm Road and the Lakes site on Windermere Drive,” he said.
“Clearly there are limitations on all sites, such as access, adequate parking, changing rooms, loss of valuable grass pitches and the wider impact on residents.
“Football Foundation and other forms of partnership funding secured will need to stretch as far as possible to provide a full-sized 3G football turf for the local community in Biggleswade, which is the priority project.
“There are time pressures around securing vital partnership funding which needs to be confirmed before the remainder of the total cost is apparent, which relies on a successful Football Foundation application.”
An investment of up to £800,000 was mentioned previously as the amount needed to fund the scheme.
The pitch needs to be fully used during the daytime where possible, rather than just on weekday evenings and at weekends.
“The Bedfordshire FA board of directors has agreed the best and most viable option is to support Stratton Upper School and Cambridge Meridian Trust (CMAT) by exploring the next phase of the project,” added Mr Young.
“Stratton Upper School recently joined CMAT, which has experience of delivering similar projects with the Football Foundation at its other sites.
“There are additional benefits as students can use the facility during the day for PE lessons, extra-curricular football sessions and competitive fixtures.
“Stratton Upper School and CMAT can now progress talks with consultants and funding partners to provide the facility for the local community.”
Town mayor Madeline Russell told its annual statutory meeting there was “planning permission for an artificial pitch at Stratton when the science centre project was approved”, which would have expired.
“CMAT, the overall academy trust, has been running these pitches at other schools, so that’s made the Bedfordshire association happier to go ahead because initially it wasn’t sure how the school would run it,” she said.
Town and Central Bedfordshire councillor Mark Foster agreed the school would ensure the facility is used more during the day by other organisations, as well as its pupils.
“Depending on the proximity of it, we’ve also got the potential option of a link to Ivel Valley School,” he said.
“Councillor Russell mentioned a previous planning application there and the obvious location would be close to the science centre, with access off Hitchmead Road, but I’m not quite sure what the original plans were.
“It seems the right option to me, although it’s a pity there were other aspects of the project which couldn’t be considered.”
Councillor Russell replied: “I think that’s the issue because they don’t want to spend money on things such as parking.
“The original planning application was to site it between the Weatherley Centre and the recreation centre.
“This was so the recreation centre changing rooms could be used for the 3G pitch, and there’s also parking space in front of the school.”
Town Councillor Frank Foster described it as “a positive way forward”.