New PNE training ground reflects club's Premier League ambitions

It is a training complex fit for the Premier League.

Saturday, 4th March 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 9:54 am

And here for the first time is how Preston North End’s new state- of-the-art facility at Ingol Village Golf Club will look both inside and out.

The striking images illustrate the club’s ambition to return to the top flight of English football after more than half a century in the lower divisions.

Bosses say the new training centre is “imperative” if North End are to fulfil their dream of playing in the big league and competing with the best.

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An artists impression of PNEs new training complex

A full application has now gone into the city council for approval, along with plans for up to 450 homes and a large public park – the first to be donated to Preston in more than 100 years.

At the same time the club has asked Town Hall officials if it needs special approval to flatten the current office block adjacent to the stadium in Sir Tom Finney Way and replace it with extra car parking spaces.

A club spokesman told the Post: “Preston North End Football Club has made tremendous progress over the last few years in both restoring our Championship status and sorting out the financial stability of the club.

“As we push forward in our aim of becoming a Premier League club – a status that would bring substantial financial rewards to the city as a whole – it is imperative that our training facilities are of a standard and quality to enable us to attract and retain the right football talent.

An artists impression of PNEs new training complex

“The current planning application for a mixed development, including a new training HQ, is fundamental to our ability to achieve our ambitions.

“Once the application is successful and the training HQ built, which we hope will be completed in time for the 2018/19 season, the current administrative building at Deepdale will be demolished to provide additional car parking, which will then allow key personnel to relocate to the new training centre at Ingol.”

According to a planning statement by architects the Frank Whittle Partnership, the proposed development aims to provide PNE with a “high-quality, purpose-built first team training facility in line with the club’s aspirations of playing at a higher tier of English football.”

It says the scheme “will enable the club to continue to evolve the training of its team and encourage growth by providing the needed training space required to attract high-calibre football players.”

An artists impression of PNEs new training complex

Because of the rural nature of the site, the design is intended to “respect and enhance the setting.” The main building will have a curved wildflower green roof to blend in with the landscape.

PNE manager Simon Grayson said when the plans were first unveiled: “It speaks volumes for the club that we’re trying to keep on moving forward year in, year out.

“We’ve got some good facilities at Springfields but trying to get even more modern ones can only help.

“Your facilities at this level have to be very good because the players are here for 10 months of the season and it can only help attract new players as well so hopefully we’ll get the go-ahead to do it and we can get in there very quickly.

An artists impression of PNEs new training complex

“It’s really pleasing we’re moving forward as a club and hopefully this can develop.”

The training complex will occupy 25-acres of a 172-acre site.

The rest of the land will form a new public park - twice the size of Avenham Park and the first to be gifted to the city in more than 100 years - in addition to the new housing development.

Under government guidelines, the city council will only be able to give planning permission if it can be demonstrated the golf course is surplus to requirements in the Preston area where there are 14 other courses within a 20-minute drive.

A Golf Needs Assessment study, which forms part of the application, has concluded that the club, which has suffered a 34 per cent drop in membership in the past two years, is not needed.

New training centre

Preston are planning on splashing out millions to give Simon Grayson and his senior squad the very best facilities to prepare for an assault on the Premier League.

The plans submitted to the council show the complex will have everything the players need on one site, together with accommodation for some of the club’s admin staff.

The development includes a full-size grass training pitch, a floodlit full-size hybrid pitch, two slightly smaller grass pitches and two five-a-side pitches. It also has a 61-metre by 43-metre indoor artificial grass pitch.

There will be a one kilometre trim trail and cycle track and a gymnasium with adjacent treatment room and physiotherapy office.

The changing room will have interconnected showers and toilets, with a treatment ice bath and jacuzzi. There will be additional changing rooms for visitors, officials and coaches.

The complex will have a dining and relaxation room, match analysis/team meeting room, manager’s and assistant manager’s office, a coaches and analytical staff office and a boot room, laundry room, kit room and equipment store.

The scheme also provides a home for most of the club’s admin team, with an open plan office, four private offices, a meeting room and kitchen, staff room and archive, storage and print rooms.

There will be space for 40 cars, room for 10 cycles and a site maintenance building and yard. The whole complex will be surrounded by a 2.4-metre high fence and access will be via a security gatehouse.

Office block demolition

PNE admin staff are to lose their office base next door to the Deepdale Stadium if plans for demolition are approved.

The club intends to relocate most of its staff into purpose-built accommodation at the new training complex in Ingol and bulldoze the old office block to make way for extra car parking spaces.

The staff have worked from the existing single-storey building in Sir Tom Finney Way since the club took over the former snooker club and Legends nightclub around 15 years ago.

At one time the building housed the Preston North End Supporters Club and also a snooker hall.

More recently the premises were shared by the club’s admin offices and the PNE shop which moved into the main stadium building last July.

Demolition is planned after the completion of the new training centre.

Staff will be relocated to Ingol, with a small number of the workforce being accommodated in the Deepdale Stadium itself.

Springfields training ground

North End’s current training ground at Lea will continue to be used by the club after the first team have moved out to Ingol.

The club’s youth academy will remain at Springfields in Dodney Drive.

A statement to the planning committee says the need to move the senior squad to the purpose-built facility at the golf club is because the Lea site is unable to be brought up to the level required.

“The need to relocate from Springfields Sports Ground is due to space constraints at the current facility and what is needed to be delivered in order to provide a training facility of the highest standard,” says the report.

“Springfields is tightly constrained by Savick Brook to the north and residential dwellings to the south. The land itself is within Flood Zone 3 which places a constraint on future development. Neighbouring land has been considered, but is not readily available and is also constrained by similar flood risks.”

Ingol village golf club

The 25-acre training centre will occupy land currently used for holes 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the golf course.

PNE owner Trevor Hemmings bought the club in 1985, but in recent years it has struggled to attract members and closed in 2010.

The plans have proved controversial with locals.

The Ingol Golf Residents Association held a public meeting on February 23 at Preston Grasshoppers

Nearly 200 people from the surrounding areas in Ingol and Fulwood voiced their anger against the latest proposals. A raft of objections have already been submitted to Preston City Council.

Chairman of IGVRA Bruce Ellison said the group were angry with the plans to build 450 homes on the current Ingol Golf Club to help fund the training facility and labelled the move as ‘underhand.’

He said: “I’m exceedingly disappointed following two planning enquiries and refusal of the plans to see a third one put in.

“These latest plans go against everything the National Policy Framework, the Central Lancashire Strategy and Preston City Council’s own local plan.

“The people who buy these ‘proposed’ homes will be paying for a training facility they will have no access to.”