'We are confident' on all-weather pitch bid

A PLANNING application for a proposed new all-weather pitch in Royston has been submitted – and the cost of the project is set to climb to £650,000. An application for an 8.37 hectare pitch, with floodlights and boundary fencing at The Meridian School in

A PLANNING application for a proposed new all-weather pitch in Royston has been submitted - and the cost of the project is set to climb to £650,000.

An application for an 8.37 hectare pitch, with floodlights and boundary fencing at The Meridian School in Garden Walk, has been submitted to North Herts District Council.

If planning permission is granted, organisers of the project will be able to press ahead with bids for £400,000 of funding from Sport England and the Football Foundation.

The pitch had been expected to cost about £550,000.


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Mike Thrower, chairman of the all-weather pitch committee, said: "The cost of the pitch has gone up because we want to make sure it's future proof.

"It needs to be a facility which will last.

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"For example, we want to be in a position where we can stage hockey matches if given the go-ahead by England Hockey.

"We've also had to provide more car parking spaces than we originally thought," he said.

Mr Thrower explained that if planning permission is granted, they hope to get a grant of £350,000 from the Football Foundation, and £50,000 from Sport England.

He said: "I've had a very positive meeting with Sport England this week.

"The planning application is the next critical step. We've been liaising with planning officers so we're quite confident of getting the go-ahead.

"We're targeting a September 2009 opening, and if we achieve that I think we'll have done very well."

Dr Michael Firth, head teacher at The Meridian School, said: "If we get the pitch it will be a great facility for all the schools in the area and for the local community.

"The use outside of school hours could be massive.

"Obviously, we don't want to upset any of our neighbours, but the pitch will be built as far away from the houses as possible, so any noise created should be masked by the sound from the A505," he said.

As reported in The Crow last year, Johnson Mathey Sports and Social Club has promised to give £150,000 towards the cost of the pitch.

Both The Meridian School and North Herts District Council have pledged £50,000 each.

The proposed all-weather pitch is earmarked to be developed on land to the side of the school.

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