0 Plans to boost sports facilities at East Bierley playing fields

Plans have been lodged for the next phase of efforts to transform playing fields used by four amateur sports teams.

Andy Walker of EBCSA

New changing rooms were completed at East Bierley playing fields in 2017 in order to secure the future of football and rugby at the site.

It is now home to Birkenshaw Bluedogs, Hunsworth AFC, East Bierley AFC, and Gomersal & Cleckheaton Boys AFC, meaning the two pitches are constantly in demand.

East Bierley Community Sports Association, which is behind the plans, was formed in an effort to improve the playing fields and its run-down changing facilities. Now the group has lodged details of its phase two plans with Kirklees Council.

These involve more changing facilities, a new clubhouse, a hybrid 3/4 size pitch, a synthetic pitch, improved pitch drainage, as well as floodlights and improved parking.

EBCSA has secured a long-term lease from Kirklees Council, as well as a 20-year, £175,000 loan, and number of grants, including Sport England, the Football Foundation, Locality and Big Lottery, as well as Spen and Batley District Committee.

Andy Walker, of EBCSA told the Telegraph & Argus: "The success of the sports clubs affiliated to the site has driven the EBCSA board to help them formulate an estates plan and vision that will secure the viability of the site for future generations."

He added: "Our project will transform the East Bierley playing fields into a high quality, sustainable and well-used community sporting asset. Now in community ownership, via a 125 year lease with the local authority, the two sports pitches on the site are unable to cope with both demand and with any level of adverse weather."

He explained that they currently provide facilities at the site for some 250 active participants a year, they have in excess of 700 expressions of interest in using the facilities, should capacity be available."

If planning permission is successful the group hope to commence work on the next stage of work, the hybrid pitch, improved drainage and flood lighting. The cost is expected to be in excess of £650,000 and EBCSA is currently seeking funding from multiple sources.

In documents lodged with the plans it states: "The area consists of one full size grass football pitch, one full size grass rugby league pitch, a changing block which was modernised in 2016 but has now reached its capacity and is currently unsuitable for any further usage."

The report adds of the well-used playing fields: "The existing facilities are at capacity and cannot accommodate additional training or competitive use. This means that the existing facilities cannot cater for any more use, or indeed demand which exists in the locality.

100% of these facilities are currently booked to pretty much capacity during core hours and would be totally unable to accommodate even 10% of known usage demands, let alone anywhere near the levels required."

As well as improving the changing facilities, the playing surfaces need extra work as around 30 per cent of match play and training are called off each year due to "poor drainage, grass quality and sub-surface quality".

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