Stunning plans for £9.7m sports hub with new football pitches unveiled for Preston park
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Town Hall bosses want to build the facility, which will include a floodlit 3G football pitch, in the middle of Ashton Park as part of the city's Active Preston project.
Most of the funding for the scheme will come from a £20m Levelling Up Fund grant awarded to the council by the Government in January. More than £1m could also be provided by the Football Foundation. And over £600,000 will be met by a sports facilities contribution from the builders of up to 450 homes on the former Ingol Golf Club site.
That section 106 agreement was made back in May 2018. Preston Council has five years to start collecting that money and so the Ashton Park scheme will go before the cabinet next Wednesday to begin drawing down the cash before the end of next month.
Cabinet members at the meeting will be shown an "indicative" plan of how the sports hub could look in the centre of the park, with the 3G pitch alongside a full-size grass pitch, four other smaller football pitches, two Futsal pitches, four tennis courts and a hub building with car parking.
The council says that the layout is purely an example of how things might look and adds: "The location, number and scale of them (pitches) may change as the scheme design develops."
A sports hub for Ashton Park - which was home to the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies team after women’s football was banned in FA stadia 102 years ago - was first suggested back in August 2021 as part of an ambitious scheme to deliver major improvements to all the city's parks. It was included in a wish list for Levelling Up funding in April last year. And now the Government funding has come through the dream looks set to become reality.
According to a report to next week's cabinet meeting, the estimate cost of the proposed Ashton Park Sports Hub is around £9,668,500. Levelling Up funding will take care of £7,436,616 of that, with the remaining £2,231,884 being looked after by match funding - a possible £1,161,884 grant from the Football Foundation, the £600,750 contribution by developers on the Ingol Golf Club site and around £470,000 from the council itself.
The report says the funding "will facilitate the delivery of the sports pitches in Ashton Park, will improve the sport and leisure offer and will have a major positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the users and the local communities who use the place."
Cabinet members will be asked to approve the drawing down of the Section 106 contribution from developers Cleator Manor Ltd before it expires in less than seven weeks time.
Plans to include four tennis courts as part of the scheme come at a time when Ashton Park's existing two courts are closed for refurbishment. The work is part of a near £250,000 scheme to upgrade tennis facilities on three of the city's parks - Moor Park and Haslam Park are the others. Most of that cash has come from a grant by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). The courts will all reopen at the end of May.