With our Training and HQ development planning application now at the cusp of a decision; the applications for the new training ground and nine pitches has been met with positive responses from both the Wiltshire FA and Sport England.
We have been quietly working for the last year behind the scenes with their small team, which includes local specialist consultants, to ensure the most positive outcome for us, as the only professional club in the county.
The internal need for a permanent training base was, once again, highlighted last week with the first-team forced to train at both Melksham Town and Hungerford Town at the last minute due to the heavy rainfall and lack of access to alternative pitches at Beversbrook Training Facility.
In spite of this, Richie Wellens’ side have been able to maintain their position at the top of Sky Bet League Two.
As well as the club’s need for a training ground to call home, the external needs of the community were highlighted in the recent Swindon Borough Council ‘Playing Pitch Strategy 2016-2021– which references Highworth as having too few pitches.
Sport England had the following comment on the application:
“By providing new pitches that could help address established playing pitch deficiencies, the
proposal would meet objective 3, and therefore Sport England supports this application in
I note that ten new employment roles will be created as a result of this development which is to be welcomed.
Swindon has an up to date and robust Playing Pitch Strategy (PPS) which in line with paragraph 96 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Sport England and a number of the playing pitch sports’ national governing bodies were involved in its production and meet annually to ensure it is kept up to date.
I note that in the PPS there is a deficiency of 3G Artificial Grass Pitches for football across the borough. The applicants are proposing up to 20hrs community use on both natural and artificial pitches, including full weekend use of the artificial Grass pitch throughout the year. This will help meet some the required pitch usage identified in the PPS. However, I believe this should be secured by a planning condition. I have had dialogue with the FA who are supportive of the scheme but also feel that there needs to be a condition to secure the community use.”
Lee Power commented on the proposal’s current stage:
“We have worked tirelessly to secure planning for our development- this has been a huge financial and resource cost with our team working long hours and weekends to meet Local Authority timetables.
This development has been an extremely complex application, and we are positive we meet all the criteria set out to secure this planning application.
The current golf club at 12 Oaks is obsolete and dated. It has always been our intention, to take this building and deliver our state-of-the-art training facility, which has so many positive benefits. We hope to see this planning secured in January 2020.”
We are delighted to assist the local community, and although this is currently in draft format, once planning has been approved, we will be in a stronger position to commit to schedules.
In addition to these positive contributions, the facility will also require three new groundsmen and several new staff. If we are able to secure planning visitors to the venue will also contribute to the local economy, bringing footfall and contributions to the local market town of Highworth.
We have been in contact with numerous local businesses who are excited to see the planning permission granted, and see the many benefits associated with the developments planned.
The response from them has been extremely positive especially regarding bringing inward investment, job creation, community use, ambition and development of home grown talent; not to mention the contribution to a cleaner environment, with the Government keen to see carbon emissions decrease, our new HQ delivers positively to these environmental mandates.