Securing new sports facilities is to become priority for Scarborough Council

Securing new facilities for Scarborough residents to play football, cricket, hockey, rugby and athletics is to be made a priority of the borough council for the next two decades.

The authority’s cabinet is set to adopt a new Playing Pitch Strategy when it meets next Tuesday, which aims to secure additional sites for sport as well as bringing older facilities back into use.

The strategy, which covers the period up to 2038, has been shaped by Scarborough Council with input from North York Moors National Park, Everyone Active, Sport England, Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League, England Hockey, the North Riding County FA, the Football Foundation, North Yorkshire Sport, the England & Wales Cricket Board, Yorkshire Cricket Board and England Athletics.

In his introduction to the strategy, Cllr Jim Grieve, the portfolio holder for Quality of Life, states that: “As a council we will use this strategy to protect and enhance pitch based sports provision across the borough and to help with the planning and location of facilities.

The council are looking to make new sports facilities a priority. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

“The action plan is ambitious but I, and our officers look forward to working with Sport England, local clubs and leagues, governing bodies, education sites and those who own and manage facilities to deliver our shared aims and ambitions as set out in the strategy.

“Sport needs high quality facilities to thrive but more importantly sport is about people coming together with a shared passion and interest to play a sport they enjoy. “

The strategy considers ways in which current and future demand for new pitch space can be met, not just through providing new facilities but through making better use of existing resources.

Aims include protecting playing fields, supporting schools and colleges to make their pitches available to the community, supporting the voluntary sector to provide new pitches.

Contributions from planning developments would be used to help fund the project.

Research from the council and its partner bodies suggests the demand for pitches is likely to grow across the life of the strategy.

Currently 37 sites for football have been recorded, comprising 84 pitches of differing size. There has been a reduction of around 25% in the number of adult football pitches in community use from the 2013 study and there is insufficient community use provision to accommodate youth teams.

The council estimates that more pitches will be needed for smaller forms of football in the coming year, including 9v9, 6v6 and 5v5.

The strategy will also look to address the disparity between men’s and women’s sport in the borough with fewer than 5% of teams in the Scarborough borough area being registered as female.

Out of 131 football teams, there is one U18 Women’s team and just seven girls’ teams.

The cabinet report states that one option is to develop Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough as a football pitch hub site to support participation by women and youth teams.

It adds: “The strategy identifies Oliver’s Mount as a key site for football development and participation and there is no other site or land identified in the strategy that could fulfil the requirements identified.

“There is currently space to accommodate 11 pitches, although it is unlikely the whole site would be required. Currently the site has a range of uses, not all of which are complimentary.

Reconfiguration and zoning of the site could enable the range of uses for sport, caravanning [and] parking to be accommodated, whilst also better protecting the quality of the pitches.”

Research also identified that by 2026 there will be a need for an additional eight cricket wickets, with that figure rising to 24 by 2038.

The council believes that these can be delivered in the form of new whole pitches, or the expansion of existing grounds, the authority will also look into the potential of reinstating the former Oriel Cricket Ground in Scarborough.

The strategy supports the provision of a floodlit synthetic athletics track and associated field facilities within Scarborough as the nearest one is currently in Guisborough.

The cabinet report also states that the provision of full size floodlit sand based Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) is needed to meet demand for hockey.

The report adds: “There is currently one floodlit, sand-based, artificial grass pitch in Scarborough, at Scarborough College, an independent school. This is the home base of Scarborough Hockey Club, however, access to the facility is constrained by planning conditions, which restrict its usage and the lack of a community use agreement with Scarborough College for the facility.”

The council says it has identified several potential sites for the facility including three school sites and two owned by the borough council – land at Eastway in Eastfield and land to the south of the Weaponness Sports Village.

The cabinet will be asked to support the strategy when it meets next week.