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School sports hall could open to community
Published 19/05/14

A SPORTS hall for use by schools and the public could be created in Watlington.

The existing hall at Icknield Community College could be improved as part of an effort to capitalise on the sporting “legacy” of the Olympic Games in London.

Other possible projects include a flood-lit artificial pitch and extending the current hall to accommodate a gym and a spinning or dance studio.

A swimming pool will also be considered but not as a priority.

The college and Watlington Primary School hosted a meeting to float the idea and investigate possible sources of funding.

Representatives from organisations including local sports clubs, the parish council and Watlington Business Association attended.

Icknield headteacher Mat Hunter said: “It’s a co-ordinated strategy between the community and school to improve provision across the locality. We have got a site here which perhaps could be used in the evening and at weekends. We would be looking to refurbish and extend the existing facilities.”

He said the project would be phased but it was too early to give an estimate on the cost or when work might begin.

“Obviously we have to look carefully at existing sports provision across the area,” added Mr Hunter.

Andrew Markham, headteacher of the primary school, said: “From September there’s a new curriculum for physical education with more competitive elements in it. That goes through all the key stages in primary and also into secondary.

“It’s about health at the core but also sustaining something that will be useful for the children as they grow up.

He said the plans were at the “embryonic” stage, adding: “The funding stream is what we need to look at next.” Mr Markham said the schools wanted to involve the community, which is why the meeting was called.

He said: “We were coming from the point of view of not knowing the community that well in terms of sport so we wanted to get everyone in one room and say, ‘what is it you’d like to see?’”

Ian Hill, chairman of Watlington Parish Council, called the meeting “very interesting”.

He said: “The schools would like to create a sports centre of some sort, possibly using some of the existing buildings, which is suitable for different uses and put to use by a variety of different organisations.

“They feel that in order to do this they need community involvement and additional funds from other sources.”

The schools had “very realistic” ideas of what was achievable, he said.

The pool was a long-term aim and the all-weather pitch a mid-term project.

Published 19/05/14

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