£800,000 grant towards scheme to provide new sports ground facilities

A grant of £800,000 has been approved in principle towards a £3.4m scheme to provide new facilities at a community sports ground in Northamptonshire.

North Northamptonshire Shadow Authority has endorsed a decision by The Borough Council of Wellingborough to release a funding request for £800,000.

The request was made by Earls Barton Parish Council for a capital grant towards The Grange Sports Field.

At a meeting of the shadow authority’s executive committee on March 25, councillors unanimously endorsed the decision by the borough council. The funding is to be released when confirmation is received that other funding sources have been committed to the scheme.

A report to the committee stated the borough council has been working in partnership with the parish council for many years on the planning of new housing and provision of new community facilities for the parish including at The Grange Sports Field located off Northampton Road.

It states: ‘The estimated cost of the scheme is £3.4m, some of which has already been spent by EBPC. The request for £800,000 from BCW would equate to approximately 24 per cent of the estimated budget.’

The parish council has already spent £202,000 on items such as the legal costs of securing the land and the Section 106 and the planning application and reports.

Based on this grant, the funding sources will come from the parish council which will contribute £600,000, BCW £800,000, Section 106 contribution will be £740,000, a Football Foundation grant of £1.1m and other grants of £135,000 from Sport England, Lottery Community Fund, Northants Community Fund and gravel/landfill grants.

The Football Foundation has not been secured yet but there have been positive discussions to date with the FA/Football Foundation.

The sports field is the principal outdoor sports facility for the 6,000 residents in the parish and for others that travel to the village. It is home to Earls Barton Sport and Community Trust, Earls Barton Football Club and Earls Barton Cricket Club.

The proposed development includes a new sports and community pavilion with two changing rooms for cricket, two changing rooms for the grass pitches and two changing rooms for the artificial grass pitches.

A social area of around 200sqm including bar and kitchen. The facility will also be used as a bar and social community space for the adjacent 280 house development called The Wickets as well as the wider village.

The old pavilion would be turned into an Active Lifestyles Hub by providing two main activity rooms, a new floodlit and fenced multi use games area, an outdoor gym and jogging/walking trails.

Councillor Jason Smith said: “I am supportive of this as it stands really because anything that gets people active and gets them off the sofas and gets them kicking balls around or doing something that works up a sweat has got to be good for morale.

“It’s got to be good for mental health and this is something that people are struggling with massively at the moment with the year of lockdown that we’ve had.

“And so very supportive of this and would like to see the project happen as soon as possible.”

Cllr Martin Griffiths said: “I am very proud of this scheme. The business case is very, very solid.

“And one thing I know about Earls Barton, the people and that community, is that if any group can get the funding together it’s Earls Barton.

“And they’ve got a rich history in getting services delivered and getting projectsdelivered over a long period of time and I have every confidence that they can do it.”