£475,000 Olympic legacy boost for East Midlands sports playing fields

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A DERBYSHIRE community football club that needs to expand to cope with demand from local people is one of 11 East Midlands projects sharing a £475,000 Olympic legacy windfall from Sport England.

Ashbourne Football Club is receiving £50,000 of National Lottery investment in the second round of Protecting Playing Fields legacy funding. This project will reclaim derelict land where a Nestle factory once stood to create a new full-sized grass football pitch. The club’s current site is currently being used to its full capacity and the club, which has two men’s and two women’s teams, had exhausted all other options for expansion.

Protecting Playing Fields is part of the Places People Play legacy programme that is bringing the inspiration and magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country. The funding is bringing disused playing fields back into use, improving existing sites and creating new sports pitches.

Sport England’s Chair, Richard Lewis, said: “These investments will transform the local pitches where many young people have their first experience of sport. With all of these playing fields safe from development for at least a generation, communities across the East Midlands can look forward to years of sporting enjoyment.

Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: “Protecting and improving playing fields, under Sport England’s Protecting Playing Fields fund, is a key part of our 2012 legacy plans. This will enable more people to have more opportunity to play sport, leaving a genuine legacy from hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The other funding offers in the East Midlands are:

- £49,982 to create a playing field at Derby College’s Broomfield Hall site in Morley which currently has no grass football pitches. Children at the local primary school will also be able to use the pitch

- £46,098 to Kislingbury Playing Fields Association to create new pitches for the local football club, which currently has insufficient space and facilities to meet demand from a number of junior teams

- £20,000 to Gateway College to provide students with a safe and enjoyable playing field. The current field has problems with stones and has no drainage

- £50,000 to Barwell Parish Council to install better pitch drainage to avoid waterlogged pitches at its Dovecote Way site

- £50,000 for South Derbyshire District Council which will be used by the Melbourne Sporting Partnership to improve and create pitches for rugby, football and cricket at the Cockshut Lane Recreation Ground

- £50,000 to Long Eaton United Football Club to create a new full sized pitch and improve upon their existing junior one at Grange Park

- £39,138 for Buxton Cricket Club which plans to create a second ground for its growing youth and adult teams with six grass wickets

- £50,000 Weedon Bec Parish Council to improve drainage and repair the pitches used by junior and senior football teams

- £40,200 for Leicestershire’s Emerald Centre to expand the playing areas for existing and new youth teams to play football and Gaelic football

- £30,620 for Houghton on the Hill Cricket Club, which will expand its playing field into an area that is currently farm land.

The playing fields will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years, creating an enduring benefit for sport. And six are set to become Queen Elizabeth II Fields after agreeing to dedicate their playing field in “perpetuity”. This is thanks to a partnership with Fields in Trust which is running the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge as part of the programme to mark the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Alison Moore-Gwyn, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust said: “This fantastic investment into grassroots facilities in England will help to ensure that neighbourhoods can participate in sporting activities at all levels for years to come. We are delighted to see that some of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the permanent legacy that the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create in tribute to the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Games.”

Hundreds more playing fields are set to benefit from a further £6 million over the three remaining rounds of Protecting Playing Fields. The third round will open for bids in early summer.

Protecting Playing Fields builds on the work Sport England already does to safeguard playing fields as a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting a sports playing field.