Residents help shape masterplan for new health, leisure, sport, education and wellbeing hub

An overviews of the proposed provision of sport, leisure and wellbeing facilities at the new hub in Stowmarket. Photo: MSDC/Saunders Boston Architects.

Plans for the development of new health, education and leisure facilities in Stowmarket are progressing following the feedback gathered from recent community and stakeholder engagement.

Launched in the summer, the engagement programme involved a series of pop-up events as well as an online survey to understand the needs and wishes of current and potential users of sports, leisure, and health facilities in the town.

The survey revealed that increasing sport hall provision for indoor sports such as netball and badminton was the voted as most important element of the outline masterplan closely followed by improving public spaces and a new sports pavilion.

The inclusion of a community track, a 3G football pitch and the introduction of health and wellbeing hub were also rated as important by the local community.

When asked about the health and wellbeing hub the feedback included a space for community activities as the most important element followed by a family hub and space for specialist services for mental and physical health.

The Stowmarket health, education, leisure, wellbeing and sports hub will bring together a range of facilities together in one place for use by the local community, sports groups and clubs as well as local schools. The hub is set to benefit not only the local area but also the wider Mid Suffolk region and supports the district council’s ambition to create places the offer a healthy future.

Harry Richardson, deputy leader and cabinet member for economic growth, said: “The response at our engagement events and to the survey have been really positive. We are working with a large number of partners to deliver new health, leisure, sport, education and wellbeing facilities for Stowmarket and having input from people who will use and benefit from the new development will be crucial. As the masterplan takes shape, I look forward to sharing further plans in the new year.”

The site incorporates two parcels of land in the north west of Stowmarket, including land surrounding Stowmarket High School and Chilton Fields.

The health and wellbeing hub could offer space for health services, meeting rooms and space for community and family activity.

Following on the feedback the revised proposal includes a 3G football pitch, a mini athletics track, new sports pavilion, a multi-use games areas, four indoor sports courts (for multiple sports such as netball and badminton), additional grass pitches, new cricket square and nets and a multi-agency welling being hub.

Tony Bush, head of operations at Active Suffolk said: “The feedback we received through the engagement activity will impact on the development of the masterplan to widen sports and physical activity provision across the site to ultimately increase participation and appeal to a wider audience in and around Stowmarket.”

In addition to the sport, leisure, health and wellbeing facilities the masterplan will include proposals for how the site could improve opportunities for active travel. Over 50% of people who responded to the survey wanted to see safer routes for walking and cycling, with 30% wanting more bus routes to the site.

Almost 200 people responded to the survey in addition to those who attended face-to-face events at Stowmarket High School and the What’s Next for Stowmarket event. Of those, 70% were Stowmarket residents with only 4% living more than 10 miles from the town. More than a quarter of those responding were under 18, telling us they were excited for a greater range of activities to be available in their town.

The masterplan is being developed in partnership with key local stakeholders including Stowmarket High School, Suffolk County Council, Stowmarket Town Council and other local primary schools, Stowmarket Leisure Centre, Integrated Care Board, Active Suffolk, local sports clubs alongside local councillors. National governing bodies like England Rugby, England Athletics, England Netball, Badminton England, Volleyball England, British Gymnastics, and Sport England have all engaged with the consultation.

For more information visit www.midsuffolk.gov.uk

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