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Witney sports grounds 'need £2.6m investment'
IT would cost more than £2.6m to bring Witney’s sports facilities up to scratch, a new report has revealed.
The study undertaken by Sports Solution GB (SSGB), was commissioned by Witney Town Council to assess the sports grounds.
It followed the council’s decision in April to abandon a policy to sell off the West Witney Sports Ground for redevelopment and provide replacement facilities on the edge of the town at Downs Road.
The consultants looked at West Witney Sports Ground, Burwell Meadow recreation ground, King George V playing fields and The Leys.
The report, published by the council last Wednesday, said the size of the town’s population meant it should have another five hectares of sports grounds.
And it highlights the “poor” condition of changing rooms at the existing sports grounds.
The bulk of the money would be spent on refurbishment of the changing rooms at West Witney Sports Ground – which would need £1.3m spent on remodelling.
According to the report, Witney Town Council has £450,000 to invest in sports facilities.
West Witney is the site in most need of investment, according to SSGB, with a further £110,000 needed for work on its playing surfaces.
Ben Woodruff, a town councillor who sits on the West Witney Sports Ground working party, said: “These things do cost a lot of money to do. We expected the cost to be reasonably high, but maybe not quite as high as it is, but that’s an estimate.
“I would hope that we could come to a compromise over costs for some things.”
The report suggests the council could apply for grant funding to cover some of the costs or that it could find other sources of funding, including enabling developments or selling land.
Mr Woodruff said that at the moment there was no clear timeline for any work to be carried out.
He said: “There’s no way the council can afford to fund a project of this size, and it never should. This needs to be done organically and sensibly.
“The council should first of all be looking at giving user groups a lease that will enable them to apply to their own bodies for grants.
“That’s going to be the first step.
“If everyone is working together, then we can get things moving in the right direction.
“By the end of the year I would hope that we could have a timeline in place and then maybe, depending on how quickly funds become available, we can start consultation with people.”
The consultants’ report is online at witney-tc.gov.uk/sports-study-report
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