Go ahead given for new sports facilities in Stowmarket

Chilton Fields and (insert) Tim Weller. Photo: Mid Suffolk District Council.

Plans for new sports facilities in Stowmarket, including a 3G football pitch, sports pavilion, multi-use games area, sports hall and mini athletics track, have been given the green light.

Mid Suffolk District Council had already agreed a full business case for the first part of its Stowmarket Health, Education and Leisure Facilities (SHELF) project.

Mid Suffolk’s planning committee have granted full planning permission for the first two parts of the scheme, and outline permission for the third – meaning the council’s major investment in the town sporting facilities can now get under way.

The proposals focus on land surrounding Stowmarket High School and Chilton Fields, and follow extensive engagement with partner organisations and sports clubs.

The initial work also includes an improved pitch for Stowmarket Rugby Club, active track, cricket nets and additional paths and fencing.

These new facilities would be available for use by residents, sports groups and clubs.

Tim Weller, cabinet member for Environment, Culture and Wellbeing, said: “This is a huge milestone for such an ambitious project, and we can now get work started and bring this exciting project to life.

“These facilities will be a great addition not only for Stowmarket but neighbouring communities too. They’ll give people more opportunities to be active, with all the health and social benefits that can bring.”

The project aims to address health inequalities in Stowmarket and wider district. In particularly Chilton Ward, which often compares poorly against the local area and nationally.

Around 12 per cent of people in Stowmarket are classed as obese, compared to 10 per cent in England, while 26.4 per cent of children in Stowmarket are obese or overweight.

The council has agreed to put £450,000 towards the £2.4 million scheme, with the remaining funding already identified from a range of external sources alongside Section 106 contributions.

The second package of work includes the construction of a new sports hall and sports pavilion with the third and final package of work, which was granted outline permission, focusing on the construction of the wellbeing hub and associated infrastructure.

Councillor Weller added: “By delivering the pitches and running track as outlined in work package one first, we can make a start on getting much needed facilities open to members of the community as soon as possible while simultaneously carrying on those conversations with our partners to finalise the design of the latter stages.”

The plans have been developed in collaboration with a number of stakeholders including Suffolk County Council, Stowmarket Town Council, local schools, the leisure centre, the NHS, Active Suffolk, local sports clubs, the Football Foundation and Sport England.

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