Sporting springboard

SPORTS clubs have reacted with delight after a £1.5million scheme to transform Alnwick’s sporting facilities became a step closer last week.

Alnwick Sporting Club, which was set up in 2007 to improve sports facilities in the town, put forward proposals which will see the creation of seven football pitches for Alnwick Town Juniors, a full-sized all-weather floodlit hockey pitch, primarily for Alnwick Hockey Club, four floodlit tennis courts for Alnwick Tennis Club, changing and toilet facilities and car parking at Greensfield.

Other sports clubs will also be able to use the hockey pitch for training purposes.

And at last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee, the plans were unanimously approved.

The new hockey pitch will make a huge difference to Alnwick Hockey Club, who currently have to travel down to train on Wednesday night and play matches on Saturday and Sunday at Morpeth Hockey Club at Longhirst Hall.

President Carolyn Britton said it was ‘fantastic’ news.

“Hopefully, the club can grow because we can get more juniors coming along without them having to get someone to drive them down,” she said.

“We would like to set up a men’s team too.

“It puts a lot of people off because not only are you travelling for away games but for home games and training as well.

“It’s a massive opportunity for the whole club.”

Paul Yeadon, junior development officer at Alnwick Town FC and a director of the Sporting Club, said: “It’s what they (Alnwick Town Juniors) have needed for the last few years.

“They have struggled to compete with other facilities in the area.

“The facilities will be good for the hockey and tennis as well. It will be a good venue for all the sports.”

Ruth Oldfield, chairman of Alnwick Tennis Club, said: “We are very pleased to hear that the planning application has been approved. As a club, we struggle to build our membership base.

“However, I have no doubt that new floodlit courts would encourage more people to play throughout the year and would result in more people from the Alnwick area playing tennis and joining the club.”

Bill Batey, chairman of Alnwick Sporting Club, said: “I’m delighted that the committee unanimously agreed to approve the proposals.

“Significant funding will need to be found to deliver the scheme but hopefully this will be an easier bid with new planning permission in place.

“All the clubs will need to work closely together over the coming months to turn the plans into reality.”

Three letters of objection to the scheme had been received over fears that the development will increase traffic on Weavers Way, which will have an impact on highway safety for local residents.

However, county council highways officer Chris Thompson told members at Thursday’s meeting that he was satisfied with the scheme following discussions with the applicants.