Sports village plan moves big step closer

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Plans to develop a new multi-million pound ‘Melton Sports Village’ at the town’s King Edward VII site have moved a big step forward.

Melton Council has now approved the freehold purchase of the Burton Road site from Leicestershire County Council (proposed price of £550,000) and approved a business case to redevelop it into a state-of-the-art multi sport venue.

The sports village will include:

l A new main stadium pitch (3G artificial grass) for rugby and football with spectator seating (about 500-1000 spectator seating and stand) and floodlights

l Health and fitness facilities (focused on a small scale facility to meet sporting needs but not to compete with Waterfield Leisure Centre)

l A new eight-court indoor sports hall that can be used for a variety of activities including extreme sports

l Outdoor grass pitches for rugby and football (junior and adult size)

It’s also hoped the sports village could be used for regional sports tournaments, conferences and other sporting events, such as boxing.

Another long-term vision (but not part of any current option) is to also have a pool facility there to meet the demands of competitive swimming.

Melton Council officers are currently working on the exact contract terms with the county council on the purchase, which will see the current facilities still being retained and operating while the sports village plans are being developed.

Subject to funding and planning permission, it’s hoped the sports village could be ready for use by 2016/17.

Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes said: “This is a major step in delivering a first class sports and leisure village in Melton. The plans are very exciting and will ensure our residents have access to a range of high quality sporting and leisure activities.

“We have approved the freehold purchase of the site so that work can begin quickly in delivering the plans. There is a clear lack of suitable leisure facilities in Melton and this ambitious project will deliver a facility that we can all be proud of.”

The business case has been developed after working with a range of sports and leisure partners, national sports bodies, Leicestershire Rutland Sport and the current users of King Edward VII site and comes after the council undertook a borough-wide survey which had over 2,500 responses clearly indicating the need and support for additional sport and leisure facilities.

Potentially the four main sources of funding for the development would be Melton Council and grant funding from the Football Association (FA), the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Sport England. Discussions have already been held with the FA, RFU and Sport England about potential funding. Other funding could be sought from National Governing Bodies, charitable trusts and other sources.

A key part of the future sustainability of the site will be the introduction of commercial facilities at the sports village which would generate income towards running costs. Two examples of such facilities would be a climbing wall or five-a-side football centre.

Melton Council deputy leader Pam Posnett is to chair a project board which will be carrying out work on the design, build, operation and management of the sports village over the next 6-9 months.

Mrs Posnett said: “The important bit is that we’ve said this new development won’t be a cost to the taxpayer. It has got to support itself, with the income from fees covering the running costs.

“I think the sports village is very exciting. It’s going to have a high-quality mixed range of facilities, including for people with disabilities, and it’s going to put the Melton borough on a very firm footing with other local towns which have these facilities.

“We will be keeping sports clubs, stakeholders and the local community fully informed and getting their views as we move forward with the sports village project.”

Leicestershire County Council’s ruling Cabinet is today (Thursday) set to agree to sell the King Edward VII site to Melton Council after which solicitors will be instructed to complete the transfer.

A restrictive covenant was also proposed to be attached to the sale, restricting the primary use of the site to sport and leisure purposes.

For more reaction turn to our back page in sport.