New plans have been unveiled for a sports hub which project leaders say will increase visitor numbers 22-fold.
Accrington Stanley Community Trust (ASCT) has produced images showing how the £2million development on Higham’s Playing Fields would look - and say the ‘ambitious’ proposals would enhance the currently ‘underused’ site.
The plans, which have been in the making since 2015, include a multi-use building to replace the current building on the site, as well as a full size floodlit artificial football pitch, three grass pitches for football and rugby and a new artificial cricket wicket. A 55-space car park will also be added to the site. The trust states that the artificial pitch will have ‘protected use’ on evenings and weekends for local grassroots clubs and community activities.
Martin Fearon, CEO of the Trust, said that the playing fields had been selected as the ‘best location’ for the sports hub following an in-depth feasibility study led by external consultants.
He said: “We believe that grassroots sport needs more investment and we are hoping to play a big part in this by providing this fantastic project for our community.
“The aims of the sports hub are to increase participation in sport, improve health and exercise levels and provide more opportunities for disabled people to access vital sport and education activities.”
Mr Fearon said ASCT had calculated that the Higham’s Playing Fields are ‘underused’, with just 6,424 visits over 12 months, averaging at 18 a day. However, they estimate that the proposals would increase that to ‘approximately’ 145,000 visits a year - 398 per day.
He added: “The proposals will see the Higham Playing Field’s site safeguarded for sports for many years to come. This will become a facility for our community to be proud of.”
The new facilities would include a 50-seat cafeteria and breakout space, with table tennis and pool tables also planned, as well as four Football Association standard team changing rooms and two 30-seater education suites.
Mr Fearon added that the draft proposals will shortly be submitted as a formal application to Hyndburn council’s planning department.
But, although the plans have been backed by amateur football leagues, they met with opposition from residents, and a petition demanding that the fields be ‘saved’ received more than 1,000 supporters.
The trust is now planning to hold a public information evening at Accrington Stanley football club along with representatives from Hyndburn council to share the plans publicly and answer questions about the development. Questions need to submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday, October 6, and the most frequently asked will be prioritised.
The meeting will take place at 6.30pm in the club’s hospitality suite at the Wham Stadium on Wednesday, October 11.