Agenda item

Playing Pitch Study.


Elaine Clarke, Community Facilities Project Officer, introduced the report which set out the Playing Pitch Study for the District and the associated indicative implementation plan. The study followed Sport England methodology in assessing current demand and supply of provision for football, tennis, hockey, bowls, rugby, cricket, athletics and identifying future development needs, priorities and options for each sport, to inform future development.


Councillor Webster, Cabinet Member for Community, welcomed the fact that many of these projects will be financed through Section 106 funding and noted that as new communities develop they need to be provided with outdoor recreation and sports facilities due to the positive impact on public health. He highlighted that the Government have included sports projects in their support schemes however with the focus turning to reviving the economy he expects that it may be down to local communities to support these organisations.


Councillor Belsey, Cabinet Member for Service Delivery, thanked the contributors to the report. He expressed that he was concerned most about the implementation and highlighted the work remaining to do on the study. He drew attention to Section 5.10 onwards which details information relating to funding of the projects. He valued the report but felt cautious about raising expectations of the deliverability of the projects.


A Member noted the change in behaviours that the public exhibit because of the impact of Covid-19 and questioned whether officers have anticipated the change in behaviour which would add pressure on the facilities as already seen with more people working from home and enjoying their local area.


The Community Facilities Project Officer confirmed that it was too early to say and noted the facilities have capacity for outdoor training during the week however there may not be capacity during the weekend.


A Member commented on the recreation ground at East Grinstead Recreation Ground on P.66 of the report. It notes that it is a potential hub site and is the only multi-pitch site however during the winter the pitch is unplayable due to the serious need of drainage and is consequently underused. He asked whether officers could consider prioritising that pitch for improvement in the short term, rather than the medium term as planned.


The Community Facilities Project Officer explained that the Council has asked the Football Association (FA) to review the football pitches which will help inform the Council as to which pitches to prioritise in terms of drainage. She noted that there are a number of sites within East Grinstead that require improvement and therefore all the pitches in East Grinstead will need to looked at as a whole.


A Member enquired whether there is a specific policy keeping pricing as low as possible, particularly for students and less well-off residents. He also enquired why adult 7-aside football wasn’t mentioned in the report and enquired the implications of tennis being run by the Parish Council and the implications of that relating to the funding. He noted that a resident proposed organising crowdfunding, and this could be done to supplement the funding made available and sought the officer’s guidance to advise the resident.


The Community Facilities Project Officer confirmed that the Council has a standard pricing on owned facilities and where grants are given to organisations it requires them to adhere to the Council’s pricing standards. She highlighted that the Facility Grants Scheme is available to fund those types of community projects across the district however she welcomed any crowdfunding activities. She also confirmed that she is not familiar with 7-aside football so will investigate its omission from the document and confirm with the Councillor outside of the meeting.


A Member drew attention to P.43 and the improvements in athletics. She asked why Burgess Hill Academy Sports facilities was not mentioned in the report and asked how Mid Sussex District Council will engage with these facilities.


The Community Facilities Project Officer noted that Burgess Hill Academy, as well as all the other secondary schools, were invited to comment on the Study however they did not respond. She stated that she has engaged and will continue to engage with the organisation.


A Member noted that Burgess Hill Town Football Club are looking to move or improve their current ground. He sought clarity and noticed in the report that a delivery group will be set up to deal with this and enquired who will be involved in the group and how will the funding be prioritised.


The Community Facilities Project Officer confirmed that the delivery group will be comprised of the Waste, Landscapes and Leisure Departments of the Council as well as the sports national bodies representatives and Sport England. Each project will be looked at by the group individually and be prioritised at the start but as projects come forward for delivery then it would come through the capital programme or the Cabinet Grants Panel.


A Member raised his concerns over housing developers wishing to contribute less to Section 106 funding due to the current pandemic and asked that the Council takes a hard line if asked to do so. He sought clarification on the total number of pitches referred to under P.22 and requested that the Haven Centre be prioritised as a place to develop a new 3G playing pitch.


The Community Facilities Project Officer highlighted that the implementation plan still needs to be considered and reviewed to see whether there is funding is available to deliver these projects. There will then be a pragmatic decision on what is feasible.

A Member thanked the officers for the vertical drainage system noted on P.19 that was constructed at Fairfield Recreation Ground, Hurstpierpoint however she drew the officer’s attention to the damaged caused by the contractors to the centre of the pitch which she hoped would be remedied.


The Community Facilities Project Officer confirmed that she will refer the issue to officers at the Council.


The Vice-Chairman referred to Point 17, P.8 which mentioned that there is a minor risk that Section 106 funding doesn’t come forward and enquired whether there was anything that could be done to mitigate the risk.


The Community Facilities Project Officer noted that Section 106 funding usually has a period of 10 years in which to deliver the projects however whilst there is a minor risk to this, the officers do monitor the timescales to ensure that the funding doesn’t lapse.


A Member referenced P.53 and enquired when the start of the first year will be for delivering the priority projects.


The Community Facilities Project Officer stated that the first year will start once the Playing Pitch Strategy will be approved.


A Member expressed that he was an avid sports fan and noted the need to refurbishment of the facilities particularly in Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill. He believed shared facilities between the differing sports will save costs and suggested that this be recommended going forward.


The Community Facilities Project Officer noted that there is a huge amount planned for Burgess Hill and she was sure that sharing of facilities will feature in the delivery of the Playing Pitch Study.


The Chairman then took Members to the recommendation to consider the Playing Pitch Study and the associated indicative implementation plan which was approved with 12 in favour and 2 abstentions.




The Committee considered the Playing Pitch Study and the associated indicative implementation plan.

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