Bury St Edmunds: Sports boost for town awaiting arrival of Olympic Torch

JUST two days before the Olympic torch is welcomed in west Suffolk, a �2.1million project for new sports facilities has been approved for one of its major towns.

Yesterday, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Development Control Committee gave the go-ahead for improved facilities at the Victory Sports Ground off Nowton Road in Bury St Edmunds.

The project is for a brand new sports hall, a cricket pavilion which looks out on to both cricket pitches and new changing rooms.

Those who are set to benefit include Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club (BSECC) and pupils from South Lee School who would use the sports hall.

The Olympic torch will pass through Haverhill, Bury and Newmarket tomorrow.

Project chairman David Barker, who is also president of BSECC and a governor at South Lee School, said: “In this Olympic year, and just two days before the Olympic flame comes to Bury St Edmunds, what could be a better way for St Edmundsbury Borough Council to mark that significant event than to greatly enhance sport at the Victory Ground?”

He added: “It means now it’s a big step forward and it’s a great boost to certainly South Lee School and Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club and everybody who plays sport at the Victory Ground.”

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Mr Barker said the project would secure the Victory Sports Ground as a venue for sport long-term.

The sports hall would be able to accommodate four badminton courts and would have four changing rooms which would also be for those using the outdoor tennis courts and football and croquet pitches.

The sports hall would also include toilet and changing facilities for staff and the disabled, a first aid room and equipment stores to name a few.

In a letter to the borough council, Philip Raiswell, planning manager at Sport England, said the organisation was in support of the plans.

He said: “The proposal will bring significant sporting benefits to the locality, with the addition of a four court sports hall and new changing facilities to serve the hall and sports pitches.

“It is considered that the sporting benefits from this proposal outweigh the detriment of losing two grass tennis courts on this site, taking into account the limited benefit of grass tennis courts to sports development.”

And the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said this project was a “priority” for ECB, adding how the site was important for the delivery of cricket in the local area and hosted some “first-class fixtures” as well as local league matches.

Mr Barker said: “It’s a fantastic day for the project. We are pretty close to getting all the funding we require.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council agreed to transfer the ownership of the Victory Sports Ground to a consortium of partners, including Victory Sports Ground Ltd, BSECC and South Lee School, at the end of last year.

Funding for the project is coming from a range of sources, including the groups which would be using the new facilities.

Mr Barker said there had been one or two funding sources which had required the planning permission.

There are number of conditions attached to the planning permission, for example around floodlighting and the times it is permitted.

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