Home Community Sports pitch upgrade ‘kicks on’

Sports pitch upgrade ‘kicks on’

by Gemma Melling

The next steps of a scheme to refurbish a Newton-le-Willows sports pitch have been given the go-ahead.

St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet last week agreed to the planned upgrades at Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness Centre.

Subject to securing grant funding from the Football Foundation – the UK’s largest sports charity – it is planned to upgrade the aging sand-based outdoor pitch with a new state-of-the-art 3G playing surface.

As part of the project, the original floodlights, which have been in place since 1996, would also be changed to a more energy-efficient LED system.

Currently used by a local amateur football team for training purposes and available for public hire, a new 3G pitch would be suitable for other sports such as rugby league, and complement wider works carried out in recent years at Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness Centre which has seen the creation of a multi-use exercise studio, immersive exercise bike studio, 90-station fitness suite and popular soft play centre – making it one of the most impressive local authority-run leisure centre’s in the region.

If successful, Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness Centre would become the third council-maintained leisure site to benefit from Football Foundation funding, with sand-to-3G-pitch upgrades carried out at Ruskin Drive in 2017 and Sutton Leisure Centre in 2021.

Welcoming the decision, Cllr Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “This scheme presents a chance to allow more people to benefit from the social, mental, and physical health benefits that physical activity brings – whether it’s a kick about with friends or part of a team, so I’m delighted to see it progress to the next stage and keeping my fingers crossed that our funding application is successful.

“You’ve only got to look at Sutton and Ruskin which are a hive of activity most nights to see the level of demand, and with the Football Foundation identifying a need for more 3G pitches in our borough, we’re hoping to add to our impressive offer at Newton-le-Willows Health and Fitness Centre which would support goals set out in our active lives strategy to increase physical active levels as well as ensuring sport is accessible for everyone.”

A funding announcement is expected to be made by the end of this month [March 2024].

For more information on council leisure facilities, including gym memberships and outdoor pitch hire, visit: goactive.sthelens.gov.uk/

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