Monday, 20 November 2017

School plans new artificial pitch for use by villagers

LANGTREE School in Woodcote has been awarded £109,000 towards an all-weather sports pitch for the village.

LANGTREE School in Woodcote has been awarded £109,000 towards an all-weather sports pitch for the village.

It plans to build the facility in its grounds off Reading Road, on a playing field behind the main building.

The pitch would measure 60m by 40m and would be floodlit. It could be used for a range of sports including hockey, netball, five-a-side football and tag rugby.

The project is expected to cost about £200,000, more than half of which will come from Sport England’s Olympic legacy fund.

Parents and governors hope to raise the rest of the money by holding sponsored events, incuding the school’s annual charity walk in September, which raised £9,000 in donations and pledges.

If the pitch gets planning permission, it will be available for hire by youth groups, primary schools, local businesses and sports teams. The school is preparing a planning application and will be asking villagers for feedback before a contractor is appointed.

It is hoped the pitch will be open by September next year.

Headteacher Rick Holroyd said: “Our grass playing fields are perfectly adequate but we have wanted to further improve our sports facilities for some time.

“We want an all-weather pitch because the British weather can affect sports matches very badly during the autumn and winter.

“You have to go quite a way to reach the nearest alternatives in Wallingford and Reading and that’s difficult on a long winter’s evening. They are also heavily subscribed.

“This is very much a project for the entire community. We have identified a need for these facilities in partnership with local sports clubs and primary schools.

“We have been talking about it with football clubs since about 2006 and there has always been tremendous support for the idea.

“We became aware that the money was available from Sport England so we put in a very strong bid and I’m delighted to say we were successful.”

The school currently has separate pitches for rugby, football, rounders and athletics, cricket nets, a sports hall and a hard court for tennis and netball.

These are used by its 556 pupils during the daytime. Local sports teams train in the hall on weekdays but it is often fully booked.

Mr Holroyd said the plan was timely as Woodcote’s draft neighbourhood plan calls for more sports facilities.

He said: “We had the ambition, we had the opportunity and the local community was saying it would support it. This will not only meet the school’s needs but will help the long-term development of Woodcote.

“I would dearly love to see the school used more often by sports teams at weekends and during the holidays.”

The number and type of floodlights have not yet been decided but Mr Holroyd said they would not disturb neighbours.

“The siting of the facility will have very little impact on surrounding houses,” he said.

“Modern lighting designs are so energy efficient that very little light spills out.

“We have also asked the contractors to consider how we can screen the pitch off by planting new trees.

“The last thing we want to do is to cause an inconvenience. We want to enhance the community, not detract from it.”

Mr Holroyd said some residents had raised concern about an increase in traffic but he insisted the school’s car park could cope with this.

He added: “I think there is a strong sense of optimism and excitement around the school for this project.

“Such a facility has been long overdue and will provide an educational and recreational facility for local primary schools, youth groups and sports teams for many years to come.”

The school will be raising money at its annual quiz night on November 22 (7pm).

* What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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