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Shortage of sports pitches puts Olympic legacy in jeopardy - campaigner

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Cheltenham's chronic lack of sports pitches to be addressed.

Those involved with sports teams in the town say they struggle to find enough open green spaces where youngsters can participate in ball games and get active.

Emlyn John, from Prestbury, whose two children play football, has called on the scale of the problem to be brought into focus ahead of a decision on plans to build 300 homes on land at Starvehall Farm in Prestbury.

Residents say more than three hectares of recreational land will be lost if the plans are passed on November 22. Mr John is conducting a survey to find out how many people are affected by a lack of outdoor sports facilities – in Prestbury and the rest of the town.

"This situation affects everyone in Cheltenham who plays sport," he said. "We need a far larger number of sports training and playing facilities than what we have available at the moment.

"In the case of Starvehall Farm, we could be set to lose more land which has been used for sports and recreation in the past and could be restored to that use again.

"I just think it's a crying shame the legacy of our Olympic Games could be lost."

The apparent shortage of pitches is not limited to Prestbury.

Ian Hamilton, general secretary of the Cheltenham Football League, said the issue was high on his agenda.

"Every year we have between six and 10 new club applicants to join our league and it is a serious issue finding pitches for them to play on," he said.

The county council said its application to build at Starvehall Farm included plans to dedicate more than two hectares of open space for community use.

And the borough council said it was committed to providing sufficient sports pitches under its Green Space Strategy.

Anyone who has been affected by a lack of sports pitches in Cheltenham can contact emlyn@jctchildrensfoundation.org or call 07789 777341 prior to November 22.

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  • Madmermaid  |  November 15 2012, 10:02PM

    The County Council says its application to build at Starvehall Farm included plans to dedicate more than two hectares of open space for community use? The current plans have open space as follows: The Green = 0.32 The Park = 0.7 The Common = 0.1 Addition to Parish Field = 0.87 I make this 1.99 hectares (roughly 2 .5 average football pitches though not enough for 2 of the maximum size allowed) and it's split over 4 areas. There are also two other green spaces but they are both swales and so designed for flood prevention and not community use. The lower part of the site was a very good playing field until the council stopped maintaining it and it is clearly wanted back.

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  • chatadmin  |  November 15 2012, 8:50AM

    This is one of the problems aswell with booking football pitches in Gloucester and Cheltenham There are very few available and even those are fully booked most the time Decent ones in Gloucester are Plock Court, Brockworth, Oxtstalls is ok too but problem with this is they give precedence to student We need a like Goals Type in Gloucester! or have more pitches here

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  • Ellery  |  November 14 2012, 11:22PM

    As with the Previous reviewer we too have struggled to access suitable facilities and have shelved our league due to these issues. Why has GCC decided to ignore local need and build housing on this site introducing high transport levels an reducing access to already limited facilities. Please support our community to develop new facilities and get healthy.

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  • GMCKINGS  |  November 14 2012, 5:32PM

    Our football team has spent a couple of weeks trying to block book a training astro pitch in Cheltenham. There was not one option available to us in Cheltenham. The majority were linked to schools; Boys College, Bournside, Balcarass etc. The students would always take precedence and they were not keen on football clubs making bookings. Our only option was going to Brockworth. The facilities are great but the cost and travelling aren't.

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  • Houndwalker  |  November 14 2012, 4:47PM

    It is disgraceful that Glos County Council wants to build houses on a well drained recreation field that could be well used as additional pitches for sports teams to use. Even if not used as formal pitches at the moment, the 'rec' is well used and valued by parents with young children, dog walkers and residents who want some fresh air and exercise. The Recreation Ground is actually protected by the Cheltenham Borough Council Green Space Strategy 2009-2024 as it is identified as a "High Quality High Value" site - we can only hope that the planning committee take heed of their own strategy and either defer or reject this amended planning application.

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