A £600,000 improvement project to upgrade an artificial pitch in Daventry to the latest football surface will see hockey clubs forced to play elsewhere.
The upgrade to the pitch at Daventry Sports Park, off Browns Road, will see the current articifical surface upgraded to a 3G football surface.
One side of the changing block will be refurbished to provide accessible changing facilities and a classroom, and the reception area will also receive a complete upgrade. The new 3G pitch will improve playability in all weathers and make it more suitable for playing FA league games.
The scheme has been developed by Everyone Active and Daventry District Council (DDC) in partnership with the Football Foundation.
A grass roots football development programme will also be implemented as part of the project, which it is hoped will result in more people playing football, particularly women, young people and those with disabilities.
The Football Foundation has committed a maximum of £360,000 to the scheme, with DDC contributing £200,000 and Everyone Active the remaining £40,000 of the estimated total cost.
Work is set to start in spring 2017. There will be a 12-week period over the summer when the artificial pitch will not be available.
However, as well as football, the current artificial pitch is used by Daventry and Long Buckby hockey clubs for training and matches. The new 3G surface is not suitable for hockey.
The Parker E-Act Academy in Ashby Road has offered local hockey clubs the use of its artificial pitches and DDC will also work with Everyone Active, the school and hockey clubs to explore how further improvements can be made to those facilities.
Joyce Gautrey, president of Long Buckby Hockey Club, said: “The pitch at the school has some drainage problems and gets moss and algae growing on it. But there is also no spectator area within the fencing, the changing facilities are a long way from the pitch, as are the toilets, and there’s no real space for after-game refreshments for the players, let alone any spectators.
“I’m glad that when DDC voted this through that they added a line saying they would help the hockey clubs financially to get the school pitches up to standard. I’m hoping we can get a pavilion built.”
Cllr Alan Hills, DDC’s community culture and leisure portfolio holder, said: “Daventry Sports Park is very popular, but it is in need of improvement, so this scheme is badly needed. Not only will it improve facilities for existing players, but the grassroots development programme will increase participation in football across all ages.
“I encourage all sports, so while I understand there is disappointment from the hockey clubs, we have ensured there is provision elsewhere in Daventry. The Parker E-Act Academy can accommodate all the weekend matches as well as evening training sessions.”