Pitch strategy wins backing

Grayfields

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SENIOR councillors have backed a new strategy aimed at making sure sports pitches in town meet the needs of residents.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee has adopted the five-year Hartlepool Playing Pitch Strategy, which focuses on key sports including football, cricket, rugby union, rugby league and hockey.

The strategy was developed to help inform future decisions on the need for new and enhanced pitch provision, help determine planning applications and “maximise” the use of existing resources.

Work by officers and a public consultation found:

l There is a small surplus of adult football pitches but shortages of junior pitches, which are likely to increase as participation continues to grow.

There are shortages of pitches that are of the right specification to meet current needs.

The existing stock of 3G pitches is poor both in terms of the amount and the quality of facilities, such as surface type and lack of floodlighting.

l The amount of provision for pitches is sufficient to meet current and future demand regarding cricket.

But there is some quality improvements needed at club bases to ensure “sustainability” of cricket at these sites.

l While there is an adequate number of rugby pitches to meet demand, there is considerable pressure on the capacity at the town’s larger club sites which is “hindering” their development.

Officers say there is a “clear role” for the council’s public pitches in providing rugby in town.

Similar to the issue with football, there is a need to improve the quality of the pitches and facilities.

l While the stock of sand based hockey pitches is “sufficient”, only one pitch is floodlit meaning that the use of the site as a club base is restricted.

Officers say participation is relatively low within schools and there is only one club in existence.

l There is sufficient provision to meet demand for tennis but officers say there are some “quality issues” that need to be addressed, specifically resurfacing of courts at several council sites and the general improvement of the club facilities.

l The maintenance of bowls greens, playing surfaces and changing facilities has been identified as a priority.

The strategy also highlights existing playing fields to safeguard and they include the larger multi-pitch sites such as Grayfields, Rift House and Brierton.

John Mennear, the council’s assistant director community services said: “It is intended that the findings of this strategy will help ensure that the quantity, quality of playing pitches and accessibility to pitches meets the needs of the local population, now and into the future, thus maximizing the opportunity for participation.”

The strategy was discussed by the cabinet committee, chaired by Mayor Stuart Drummond.

Members heard the stock of modern 3G pitches was poor but land has been allocated at the former Brierton School site, off Brierton Lane, as part of major regeneration plans.

Mr Mennear said new pitches at the Sports Domes, in Seaton Carew, would also “positively impact the town”.

l Mail view: Page 8