All-weather pitch would benefit community - MP

PUBLISHED: 16:49 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 14:45 12 May 2010

A PROJECT to develop an all-weather sports pitch in Royston has the backing of MP Oliver Heald. The plan was proposed six weeks ago and is the brainchild of the Johnson Matthey Sports and Social Club. Project organiser Mike Thrower said: This will be an

A PROJECT to develop an all-weather sports pitch in Royston has the backing of MP Oliver Heald.

The plan was proposed six weeks ago and is the brainchild of the Johnson Matthey Sports and Social Club.

Project organiser Mike Thrower said: "This will be an excellent facility that Royston desperately needs.

"We are now in a good position. So far everything has been positive and the project now has real substance. Since the initial proposal things are really moving."

Mr Heald said: "The development of an all-weather sports pitch will benefit the community immensely, especially the schools and sports clubs.

"It is important for Royston and something that people have wanted for a long time. At the moment things look positive."

Mr Thrower met Mr Heald and Cllr Ian Knighton, North Herts District Council's portfolio holder on leisure, on Friday.

Mr Heald said: "I am very keen and having worked on similar projects this one looks promising. This project is different because there is already money in place, which can be a big part of the battle.

"I can see no reason why it shouldn't happen."

Johnson Matthey has given £10,000 towards the scheme, a figure that will rise to £150,000 if proposals and planning permission are agreed.

Other issues discussed at the meeting included possible locations for the development which include Roysia, Greneway, and Meridian schools, and Therfield Heath.

Greneway head teacher Susan Kennedy said: "Both Greneway and Meridian are in favour of the project, whether it's based on the school grounds, or somewhere else in the community.

"I think it is something that young people will benefit from greatly. It is a wonderful idea, and I think Royston needs something like this."

Mr Thrower said: "We appreciate that planning will be met with some concern. Hopefully the location of the pitch will not affect too many people. It's a community project, so ultimately they have to help make the decision."

One stumbling block, however, appears to be the cost.

Herts County Council has told Mr Thrower that it could cost about £600,000.

Mr Thrower said: "The quote from the county council is far too high and this figure would almost definitely put a question mark over the project.

"However, I have had two independent quotes that have said £450,000 would be enough. So we will have to wait and see."

Cllr Knighton said: "The project is still in the early stages, but I am very supportive of it.

He is currently arranging a meeting with Mr Thrower and the district council, and said: "We need to discuss facilities, funding, location, and timescale. We will do everything we can to make this happen."

Mr Thrower said: "We will be presenting our case to Sport England. We are hopeful that it will help and we will be meeting them soon.

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