£50,000 grant boost for all-weather pitch scheme

PUBLISHED: 09:15 16 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:56 11 May 2010

PLANS for an all-weather sports pitch in Royston have moved a step closer to reality following the award of a £50,000 grant. Sport England has given the money towards the cost of the pitch, which will be built at the Meridian School. It is hoped it will b

PLANS for an all-weather sports pitch in Royston have moved a step closer to reality following the award of a £50,000 grant.

Sport England has given the money towards the cost of the pitch, which will be built at the Meridian School. It is hoped it will be open by August 2009.

Mike Thrower, from the organising committee, said: "We're over the moon to get this cash. A lot of hard work has gone into this project so far, and we're getting closer to our target."

More than half of the estimated £620,000 needed for the project has now been received from various sources, including the Meridian School itself, and the Brian Leslie Racher trust. The project has also benefited from a £150,000 donation from the Johnson Matthey Sports and Social Club.

Mr Thrower says the organisers will now be applying for a grant from the Football Foundation's grass roots scheme, which should cover the rest of the costs.

They are also awaiting confirmation that they will receive £50,000 from North Herts District Council, which pledged the money earlier this year.

He said: "That could be a potential spanner in the works. We need final approval for that £50,000 before we can go ahead, and if North Herts turn us down we may need to turn to the local community for help.

"It's been a fantastic effort thus far from everyone involved, and we're nearly there."

The floodlit pitch would be the first of its kind in Royston, and would be suitable for several sports, including football, hockey, and netball.

A spokesman for Meridian said: "The facility will be available to schools during term time, and after school hours for activities such as the Extended Schools initiative.

"Weekday evenings and weekends will be reserved for community use.

"Royston has no artificial pitch for training, coaching or matches, and the new pitch will help compensate for the fall in the number of outdoor sporting facilities that the town has experienced in recent times."

Conditional planning permission for the pitch was granted by North Herts District Council in August.

It is expected that confirmation of the Football Foundation grant will be received in February.

Mr Thrower said: "Once we've got all the funding sorted, we can put the scheme out for tender.

"We hope construction will begin in the Easter holidays, to minimise disruption at the school, and that the pitch will be open by August.

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