New hope for sports facilities for town

HUNDREDS of people turned out to an open day which offered fresh hope for new sports facilities in Halesworth.

HUNDREDS of people turned out to an open day which offered fresh hope for new sports facilities in Halesworth.

Residents have often voiced their anger about the lack of facilities for sports clubs in the town, and several projects in the past have crumbled.

The event, held at The Cut on Sunday, was hosted by Halesworth Playing Field Association (HPFA) and officers from Waveney District Council and was designed to give people their say on a potential site.

Tony Goldson, chairman of (HPFA), said he was enthused by the turnout.

“It was extremely well supported,” he said. “It was all positive - I didn't hear anything negative about it at all. From our point of view it is an absolutely superb site. People have started to get excited. What we need now is the go-ahead for permission to buy it, which is going to be the next stage.”

The 27-acre site is made up of two separately owned fields, off Brick Kiln Farm and Fair View Road, which are currently rough ground and farming land.

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Mr Goldson added: “I think we need give better sporting facilities to the teams we've already got, then go on to other sports, such as rugby, hockey and cricket, but we've got to get more grass for the football club.”

He said the land would be big enough for at least five football pitches, as well as plenty of space for other sports.

Halesworth Town Football Club currently runs more than 10 teams, including two senior teams and a girls' team at Dairy Hill playing fields, with only one full sized and one smaller pitch.

HPFA owns the land - that also includes tennis courts, a bowling green and pavilion, as well as an outdoor swimming pool - which Waveney District Council voted to give up running, saying it was not cost-effective.

The football club's chairman Adrian Waters said: “We desperately need something because we just haven't got the grass.

“Most of the big clubs like Bungay have got floodlights and play midweek matches and under 18s which keeps the boys playing football. We can't do that. We've got a postage stamp - about 40 yards wide by 60 yards long where all the teams have to train.”

He added: “I got very excited about the last project but we've been stepped over so many times.”

Secretary Arthur Ling, who has been involved in the club for 25 years, said: “We badly need new areas and facilities but why we can't stop where we are and develop it I don't know. There's a field to the right of our sports field which could quite easily be used. I can't see the point in spending money on two sites when we could develop the existing one.”

A council document on future development states that the Dairy Hill cannot meet the needs of the town's sports teams, and that its preferred use is for housing. Any money raised from selling off part of the land could go towards a new sports ground, although the section used for sports would be retained.

The public consultation on future development in Halesworth, including sports facilities, ends on January 12.