OVER THE MOON: Peter Betts hopes they will have an artificial pitch alongside the grass ones this summer
The borough’s cabinet last night approved a bridging loan of £300,000 to Haverhill Community Sports Association (HCSA), which already has a £300,000 grant offer from the Football Foundation. The loan still needs final approval from the full council on February 23.
Grass pitches at HCSA’s New Croft, which opened in 2010, are at capacity with 35 local teams using them.
The association’s facilities manager and football development officer Peter Betts has spent two years visiting facilities across the country to find what would best suit their needs.
Peter said: “There’s so much community benefit. The council has recognised the need for a 3G pitch in Haverhill. It is a football optimised facility but it will benefit other sports. It just gives people opportunities.”
He said he hoped to have the pitch open by late July or early August but added that not getting the loan could have delayed the project for up to two years and may have meant losing funding they have already been offered.
Peter praised the support HCSA has received from the Suffolk Football Association in securing finance and said its development manager Nathan French and HCSA chairman Tom Harrison had ‘gone above and beyond’ with the project.
The council’s loan is subject to conditions, including that it can only be used for a 3G pitch. The idea is that it would be paid from money promised by housing developer Hallam Land Management as a Section 106 payment for local facilities. The association will pay interest at 2.5 per cent above Bank of England base rate, up to eight per cent.
New Croft was a built on the old Chalkstone Playing Fields with £550,000 in grants and the rest of the £1,950,000 from St Edmundsbury.
The council officers’ report to its cabinet said: “The HCSA has been very successful in achieving the aims of the Community Football Partnership Development plan.
“Thirty five local teams currently use the facility and demand is likely to increase with the growing population in the Haverhill area.”
The report also said the West Suffolk Joint Growth Steering Group had ‘flagged the need for a 3G facility in Haverhill to meet current and future growth in demand’.