A £1m funding boost for grassroots sport in Clitheroe will see the creation of two state-of-the-art 3G multi-use pitches.
Plans for a new artificial grass pitch and refurbishment of an existing sports area with associated fencing, floodlighting, access pathways and storage units at the Roefield Playing Fields in Edisford Road, were given the go-ahead at Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Planning and Development Committee meeting thanks to a £1m kick-start by the Lancaster Foundation.
Operated by new charity Ribble Valley Community Sports Trust, the pitches will provide much-needed all-weather facilities for training and matches to local youngsters, ensuring year-round sport, alongside the existing grass provision. The existing, smaller 3G and sand-filled training areas are set to be replaced with a larger pitch, in addition to a new full-size match ready ground.
The new pitches will be built using the latest all weather synthetic specification to FIFA high standards, complete with a shockpad and a spectator canopy.
The founder of Clitheroe Wolves FC, George Hibbert, and his son, Ross, have passionately grown the club for over 25 years, along with a dedicated team of volunteers.
Ross shared his dream of an extensive facility where people of all ages and abilities could enjoy a wide range of sports with the Lancaster family a couple of years ago and he has since worked tirelessly to bring the scheme to fruition.
Delighted, he said: “The Wolves alone have 42 boys and girls teams, including a small disability group and the demand is increasing daily.
“We are forced to travel to pitches in places like Accrington, Blackburn and Colne.
“We want to provide a first-class facility that is available to the whole of the Ribble Valley community – young and old – able and more physically challenged and also charitably to enable children from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to participate and thrive.
“I want to say a huge thank you to the Lancaster family. Their offer of covering the facility build cost is almost beyond belief.”
Steven Lancaster said: “All of us at the Lancaster Foundation fully support Ross and the vision of this new Ribble Valley sports charity.
“Council officers are supportive and have expressed their delight that the Lancaster Foundation are fully funding this more extensive facility and it is being managed by the new charity RVSCT.
“We are pleased to pledge the charity a donation of over £1m to cover the complete facility development costs. I am now trusting all parties reach a fair agreement and see the dream come to reality.”
The chosen tender for the contract is from a specialist company in the sector that has recently completed installations for Premier League clubs, including Middlesbrough and Everton. Officials are aiming for the work to start in September with a view to completion in early 2019.
Also pleased is Coun. Mary Robinson. She said: “This really is an opportunity-of-a-lifetime for the council and community.
“My grandson is a Wolves team player and I have watched with excitement of this project which has been in the pipeline for over 18 months.
“It’s an amazing gift to the whole community and I have every confidence it will be appreciated and successful.”