Wed, 22 Jan 2020
RESIDENTS will be asked to have their say on plans for new pitches at the Henwick Worthy Sports Ground,
Newbury & Thatcham Hockey Club is proposing a new half-pitch to replace the tennis courts, in addition to a full-size multi-sports pitch.
The club said that participation in hockey at Henwick has doubled in the last 10 years, requiring it to add new teams across its senior and junior sections.
Speaking about the proposals at a Thatcham Town Council meeting recently, club secretary Sara Dutfield said there was a lack of space, particularly for training.
“We just don’t have enough space for new or junior members to train safely,” she said.
On the multi-use of the full pitch, she said: “We have thought about the community as a whole, not just ourselves.
“We are not seeking to increase the number of people we have up there or additional traffic”.
Club chairman Vincent Butler said that the club would be looking to pay for the half-pitch, but would not be advancing with the full pitch anytime soon.
He said: “We thought it would be a good idea to get consent for that ground.
“Whether that takes place or not is a discussion among yourselves and West Berkshire Council.
“We have taken a long reflection to try and be a bit more constructive about how we develop the site.
“We are not seeking to implement it in the short term.”
Mrs Dutfield added that it was the district council’s responsibility to replace the pitches.
But the altruistic nature of the club’s proposal was questioned by Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West).
He said: “You are going to pay for the half-pitch and you are going to let other people use it?
“You’re just doing that and they’ll play on it?”
Mr Butler replied: “The existing surface needs replacing.
“West Berkshire Council are looking at how much this is going to cost and how much to maintain it.
“They need to look at the maintenance of that and make sure it’s suitable for 15 years time, a good surface should last 15 years.
“That existing surface was laid in 1999.”
Mr Brooks said: “I just wanted to understand the altruistic nature of the hockey club putting in £150,000 for others to use.
“I’m still confused as to why they are doing both now.
“It won’t be done in five years.
“Overall, let me be quite clear, this should be supported with a little bit more information.”
The club will be holding drop-in sessions at its Henwick clubhouse, where the plans will be displayed and members of the project team will be on hand to answer any questions.
The drop-in sessions will take place between 3pm and 7pm on Wednesday, January 29, and Thursday, January 30.
If all goes to plan, the club hopes to submit its application towards the end of January, have it approved by April and be ready for the start of next season.
Speaking after the meeting Mrs Dutfield said: "The club is applying for a full artificial surface pitch and half artificial surface pitch. We are applying for both as we think that there is a benefit to showing the longer term potential for the site and to be fully transparent.
"We are in discussions regarding funding the half pitch, which we would aim to start immediately, but would be aiming to contribute significantly, if not fully, to the costs of that.
"The full pitch would, clearly, be more expensive and we would need to discuss funding that further with the council and other stakeholders once planning permission has been secured".