Swindon Town Football Club have formally submitted the planning application for their proposed new training centre and headquarters complex which is to be located on the former Twelve Oaks Golf Club site at Highworth.
The new complex includes approximately 24,640 square feet (2,289 square metres) of purpose built training centre, gymnasium and headquarters offices, utilising the former main golf club building as a players’ restaurant and catering facility.
The proposal includes use of part of the former golf course for eight grass training pitches and a full size all-weather 4G floodlit pitch. The access from Lechlade Road is to be realigned and improved to provide for a right turning lane into the site for southbound traffic along with the provision of new pedestrian and cycleway connections into the site and additional car parking and servicing facilities.
The new floodlit 4G all-weather pitch will be available for community use throughout the year.
Swindon Town Manager, Phil Brown, commented:
“Whilst we have seen new all-weather pitch facilities provided elsewhere within Swindon recently, such as at New College - having a purpose built high-quality training facility for STFC will be a key element in the drive onwards to higher levels of football.
“This is a fantastic opportunity also for the local community in Swindon and Highworth and should help attract aspiring young footballers to the Club. I am looking forward to working closely with the local community to develop this fantastic new facility”.
The proposal, estimated in the region of £6m, is accompanied by a separate planning application for residential development on land formally forming part of the golf club but having an extant planning permission for use as 18 holiday lodges.
Les Durrant, Managing Director of DPDS Consulting Group who are advising Swindon Town Football Club as town planning consultants and architects, commented:
“The principle of the development of this area of land was established by the decision to allow holiday lodges on it and we are proposing that the lodges are replaced with permanent new homes.
“This will be a key element in funding the construction of the new training facility”.
The balance of the funding is expected to come from a combination of grant funding and direct funding by Swindon Town FC.
The southwestern part of the former golf club, previously used as a driving range, has already received permission for use as two training pitches.
The remaining land that is not required for the new training centre complex and related development is the subject of a separate planning application for development and use as a race horse training yard and all weather gallop, with the majority of the site remaining open and with areas for nature conservation.
Former Swindon Town goalkeeper, Fraser Digby, said:
“Swindon Town have never had their own purpose-built dedicated training centre and this proposal marks a huge step forward for the Club.
“Modern, state of the art training facilities are essential in order to attract both young and experienced players to the Club and form a major part of the Club’s youth-development programme.
"We want talented local youngsters to choose Swindon Town FC rather than be tempted elsewhere to clubs who have better facilities to offer. We know that some local lads are tempted to travel considerable distances to other clubs like Reading because of their training facilities and we would like to reverse that trend”.
The detailed proposals follow closely the principles set out in the public consultation event that took place in the summer.
DPDS Managing Director, Les Durrant, commented:
“We consulted Highworth Town Council and the local people of the town earlier this year to outline the initial proposals and they were generally very supportive, particularly of the prospect of community use of the 4G pitch facility.
“The majority of people also recognised that the proposed housing development was part of a funding package to help deliver the new Training Centre and were supportive of that as well. As a result we have developed the original proposals as now formally submitted for planning approval”.
Swindon Borough Council will now carry out further statutory consultation on the proposals and it is hoped that the formal planning applications will be considered favourably by the Planning Committee of Swindon Borough Council early in the New Year.
Fraser Digby further commented:
“We have worked very closely with the local community, including the local football clubs in the area, through the initial consultation period and I know they are all very excited about this new development as it will help all football clubs in the locality, not just Swindon Town, and I am really looking forward to continuing our dialogue now that the proposals have been formalised and to helping deliver the project on the ground”.