Ambitious plans that would have revolutionise sport in Wellington have been backed by the town council. The creation of a new football “hub” with up to five grass pitches plus clubhouse, stands and parking for 160 cars would allow the cricket club sole use of the current shared ground and permit the rugby club to expand toward the Recreation Ground.
Three possible sites for the hub have been identified, with Option B on the A38 relief road between Monument Lane and Ford Street being preferred over the other two. Option A adjoins Hilly Head and Court Fields school while Option C is to the south of Hilly Head and west of the Foxdown Hill.
Plans to include a 3G artificial pit in the new complex have been dropped because of high running and capital costs. The Option B site has been preferred because it is the flattest, needs the least landscaping and has the fewest planning constraints.
Consultant Stuart Todd told councillors that it was impossible to give firm costings for the scheme because of uncertaintly over whether the cost of land purchase could be partially offset by new development rights. With a 3G pitch included the plan was estimated to cost approaching £5m but without 3G that figure dropped to the vicinity of £1m+.
Mr Todd added that money for the plans could come from funders such as the FA, Football Foundation, Sport England and the National Lotter as well as from the Section 106 and CIL levies available to councils from housebuilders.
Cllr Andy Govier said “It’s a big project but it’s something the town deserves. Wellington is passionate about sports.” Cllr Marcus Barr added that womens’ football was expanding fast in terms of the number of teams but that the girls were struggling to find available pitches. “We need more than three extra pitches, more like four or five,” he said.
“This is a golden opportunity to help sports facilities in an our expanding town,” said Mayor Gary James proposing that the council vote for a £9,000 provision for Mr Todd to move to Phase 2 of the feasibility study which would involve talking in detail to landowners and planners about exact costs. The council agreed the funding but did not, at this stage, commit itself to choosing between the three options.