£860,000 artificial pitch plans approved for North Walsham

Plans for an artificial grass sports pitch in North Walsham were approved at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council’s cabinet.

The facility, which would be available primarily for football, but with other sports depending on wider demand, will cost an estimated £860,000. It will be developed as a joint project between the council, the Football Foundation and North Walsham High School.

The pitch will be available for both school and public use. The facility will be floodlit and fully enclosed, and provide improved parking and changing facilities on the school site.

Under the proposals, the school will provide the land with North Norfolk District Council paying 40% of the capital cost, and the Football Foundation paying the remaining 60%.

A feasibility study commissioned by the council identified an initial cost estimate of £810,000 for the pitch plus applications for funding, design and planning; plus another £50,000 to add a “shock pad” system so the facility can cater for other sports such as rugby.

The latter £50,000 cost was not eligible for Football Foundation funding, meaning NNDCs contribution would be £374,000 and the Football Foundation contribution £486,000.

North Norfolk District Council will submit a funding application for an April 2019 deadline, with a decision being made by the FA in July 2019 and completion before the end of 2019.

The council will largely recoup its capital costs via user income. The income will also provide a fund for future renewal of the pitch surface which has an estimated lifetime of around 10 years.

A council spokesman said: “We have been working with the Football Association (FA) for some time on this proposal and the need for the artificial grass pitch was clearly made. There is good demand from clubs locally and a particular emphasis on girls’ and women’s football.

“There is also a growing emphasis on walking football for older people.”

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