Sports and community park bid for Whalley

Members of Whalley Community Sports Park project
Members of Whalley Community Sports Park project
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Exciting plans to build a state-of-the-art sports and community park in Whalley are being explored.

Years of waiting appears to be finally over for the community and youngsters who have campained for 21st Century sports facilities in the village.

The site will be a fantastic asset to the village and the surrounding areas

Local businessman Jon Smith

Inspired by an original idea from the community and local businessman Jon Smith, the Whalley Sports Community Park is now in its initial stages of coming to fruition and is regarded as one of the “biggest projects” for local facilities to be developed in Whalley.

The sports complex will transform the existing Queen Elizabeth II playing fields and Whalley Sports Club. It will include a multi-use games area with floodlighting, a green gym with eight exercise stations, plus an adjacent youth and community seating shelter. Major field drainage and other improvements to the four junior and senior football pitches are also planned.

In addition, the facility will boast a multi-functional building providing year-round facilities for all users and the public. The “hub” of the building will be a large events space – the size of two badminton courts, which can be used throughout the year as a function room or sports hall for badminton, table tennis, short tennis, exercise classes and floor sports.

There will also be a stage for performance and music with enough space for audiences and social events.

The centre will include modern changing rooms, a multi-use community activities room and plenty of storage for sports and other equipment. There will also be a kitchen and a large social area with a bar.

Jon, who runs Whalley Warm and Dry, explained the necessity of the new project.

“During the winter, our hardy junior footballers survive with no changing rooms and no toilets, visiting teams and sports officials from surrounding areas have also been concerned about our lack of facilities, which need to be provided to remain in the local football and cricket leagues.

“We also need to upgrade the existing road and pedestrian access routes around the site to include security and amenity lighting.

“In addition, there is a green environmental project developing at the corner of the site to create a ‘Forest Garden’ where all the community members can get involved with nurturing a productive nature area with fruit, nut, coppice trees and shrubs, wildlife habits and picnic tables and paths.”

The sports ground was home to the first Roses cricket match between Lancashire v Yorkshire in 1867.

The 150th anniversary will be in 2017, when the project should be well under way to completion, and a celebration rematch is planned.

The committee behind this ambitious project is now appealing to Ribble Valley folk and businesses to help fund raise and provide sponsorship to turn this project into reality.

“All the local sports and community organisations in Whalley have now come together to form a new charity with a representative management structure, and will all work together to make this really happen at last,” explained Jon.

“Ribble Valley Borough Council are also on board, and have already provided support and financial grants, with the promise of more if they see the whole community of Whalley and surrounding area getting behind this venture.”

Jon added: “The site will be a fantastic asset to the village and the surrounding areas.

“Over £200,000 has already been raised for some of the new facilities, but major funding is still required for the restof the project.

“Any support in areas of funding would be greatly appreciated.

We are also hoping that local businesses will come forward to provide major sponsorship for different parts of the development.”

It is understood work on the project should begin this summer with the aim of finishing everything by 2018.

If you would like to know more about the sports complex or help and assist in any way with fund-raising ideas, please contact Jon Smith on 01254 822220 or e-mail jon.wwd@btconnect.com