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£1m bid to create new sports pitches at Didcot
12:50pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
A £1M bid to convert fields on the edge of Didcot into new sports pitches has been launched by town council leaders.
At a meeting on Monday they agreed to approach the landowner to start negotiations for the 25-acre site.
The town council wants to buy the land using New Homes Bonus funding, which is allocated by the Government to South Oxfordshire District Council.
Town council leader Margaret Davies would not reveal the precise location of the land in case there is a rival bid. But it is hoped the site could eventually become home to the town’s cricket and rugby clubs.
She said: “Didcot is desperately short of dedicated sports facilities and this land would be fenced off and used for rugby, football, hockey and cricket. We want the land to be bought using the New Homes Bonus because our funds are limited.
“The landowner appears to be willing to sell, and once the land is bought the town council would put in funding in future years.
“We will also work with sports bodies to capture more funding.”
The new pitches would complement other new leisure facilities being created to cater for population growth resulting from the 3,300-home Great Western Park estate off the A4130. These include a new £15m leisure centre planned for land off the ring road, opposite to the Ladygrove estate.
There is also a proposal for new sports pitches at Boundary Park on Great Western Park, and work could start in the autumn on a £400,000 all-weather football pitch on Ladygrove.
Mrs Davies said the green field site was suitable for leisure use and had not been allocated for housing.
She added: “This will be specifically for sports. There will also be some land for new allotments and a clubhouse. Once the land has been bought there are levers that can be pulled to bring in funding.”
Mrs Davies said the town’s cricket club, which plays on land at Didcot power station, is seeking a new home.
Paul Costello, chairman of Didcot Cricket Club, which has more than 150 players, said: “We will continue to talk to the town council as we need a permanent new home.”
Bill Service, cabinet member for leisure at the district council, said: “Councillors in Didcot have been looking for land like this for pitches for the past 20 years. This is an excellent opportunity and we should definitely pursue it.”