Council urged to back sports complex

By Lisa CleverdonA COUNCIL has been urged to pledge its support to a plan for a “world class” multi-million-pound sports complex set to change the face of a town.

By Lisa Cleverdon

A COUNCIL has been urged to pledge its support to a plan for a “world class” multi-million-pound sports complex set to change the face of a town.

The proposal would see a 25-acre site at Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds, transformed into a Hockey Centre of Excellence, with two hockey pitches, a cycling velodrome, an outdoor bowling arena, and five outdoor tennis courts.

Basketball and badminton courts, cricket and football pitches and a purpose-built gymnasium hall would also be provided on the land if the plan goes ahead.

It is hoped the facilities, which could cost anything from £15million upwards, could provide a new base for many sports clubs and societies in the area.

Funding totalling £288,000 has already been allocated to the project by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is now being asked to give backing to the scheme and to offer professional advice on the development of the complex.

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Various organisations - including the Risbygate Club, the Bury Spectrum Gymnastics Club, the West Suffolk Wheelers Cycling Club, and the Bury Hockey Club - have spent the past few months investigating ways to provide enhanced sporting facilities in the town.

Mark Savin, project architect for Bury St Edmunds-based Milburn, Leverington and Thurlow, which is responsible for coming up with a design for centre, said if given the go-ahead, the plan will provide a world-class facility for not only the town, but for East Anglia as well.

“Unfortunately, there is a lack of facilities in this area, but this complex would provide everything needed for the region,” he added.

“It is a large site and there is plenty of room for the facility. We have had lots of positive interest from people and we expect this to grow as the weeks go by.”

The project will be discussed at a meeting of the council's cabinet members, on Wednesday.

In a report written for the meeting, council officers said: “The centre will be of regional and national significance, assisting in the economic development of the borough, and will provide further opportunities of community involvement in sport.”

Terry Clements, the council's portfolio holder for leisure and sport, said he was hopeful it would support the plan.

“There are ongoing discussions from many parties with regards to this scheme, but the first priority is to get an agreement in principle so we can start to try to take it further,” he added.

“There is no doubt that Bury is a growing town with good links and this sports centre would certainly help to add to the overall package, as well as providing benefits for people who live locally.”

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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