Boost for football facilities across North Herts with significant investment plans

Football facilities across England are set for significant investment. Picture: DANNY LOO

Football facilities across England are set for significant investment. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

A multi-million-pound nationwide plan has been launched to help “unlock the power of football pitches in England” and allow more people to play the game as well as “improving their physical and mental health, empowering young people and strengthening communities”.

Every area in the country has a plan to enable investment in football facilities to be accurately targeted, identifying the priority projects for potential investment.

The plan, with guidance from local partners, has developed a list of high-level projects for potential investment. Each is aligned to the investment priorities set out in the National Football Facilities Strategy, which include thousands of new 3G football-turf pitches and improved natural-turf pitches.

For North Hertfordshire this means a proposal of 18 priority projects

The report said: “The strengths of football in North Hertfordshire has been club growth and development. This had led to five clubs having more than20 teams and it is recommended that it is further encouraged.

“However, there are issues one of which is the conversion rate for male and female youth players into adult teams and the need to increase the number of activities for those with a disability.

“It is therefore recommended that the future football development priorities for North Hertfordshire are to increase the number of adult male and female teams, support the transition of youth players into adult football, increase the range of recreational programmes across the area and increase the provision of activities those with a disability, be this through an increase in the number of teams or recreational football opportunity.”

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To do this the plan has identified that there is a shortfall of three full-size 3G football-turf pitches, and a single small-sided one, 28 improved grass pitches, nine changing rooms or clubhouses and four small-sided facilities.

The Priory School in Hitchin, as well as unnamed Letchworth/Baldock and Royston 3G projects have been identified as possible locations for the three full-sided 3G pitches, with an unnamed Knebworth 3G project possibly set for the small-sided one.

Nine of the 13 “key grass pitch sites”, which account for the equivalent of 28 full-time pitches, have been prioritised for improvement work. These are Priory School, King George Playing Fields, Little Wymondley Playing Field, Purwell Recreation Ground and Swinburne Recreation Ground, all in Hitchin, as well as the Letchworth-based Baldock Road Recreational Ground, Grange Playing Field and the Jackmans Playing Field.

King James Academy is the one place in Royston selected.

The Priory, Royston 3G project, Baldock Road, Jackmans, and Purwell appear on the list of seven places that need new clubhouse or changing room provision, Pirton Recreation Ground and Walsworth Common the others, while Ickleford Sport & Recreation Club and Swinburne require refurbishment work.

The next steps will be to start applications for future funding.

Each priority project that progresses to a funding application via the Football Foundation will produce a detailed site development plan, specifying all football development activity, usage and key partner engagement.

Each will also have to show how it will deliver key participation outcomes, be a good quality, sustainable facility and demonstrate suitable match-funding.

The report added: “Successful delivery will require the collective effort of all local partners. It is recommended that the important work undertaken by these partners to produce this plan continues in the form of on-going dialogue and collaborative work to deliver priority projects and review progress.”

For more on each area’s plan go to