Stortford North developers' money to fund sporting revolution in the town
A £4.6m cash bonanza is set to transform Bishop's Stortford's sporting facilities.
The pot of money is part of planning conditions for the Stortford Fields and St Michael’s Hurst housing estates currently under construction and is expected to roll out over the next seven years.
A £1m grant to Herts and Essex High School for its new sports centre at Dimsdale Crescent has already been agreed, taking the total available to £3,466,233.
Of this sum, £446,233 from St Michael’s Hurst is ring-fenced for the town’s rugby club, sports trust and community football club.
On Tuesday evening (Sept 11), members of East Herts Council’s executive were set to agree the protocol for distributing the remaining funds to clubs and organisations in the town.
It is proposed that a panel will be set up to scrutinise and score bids before a final decision is made by EHC’s executive member for health and wellbeing, Cllr Eric Buckmaster.
Papers presented to the cabinet say: “It is proposed to keep the process as simple as possible, in recognition of the limited capacity and expertise that clubs and organisations typically have to resource the preparation of funding bids. That said, there is a need to be robust to ensure that projects have the maximum potential to succeed once funding is awarded.”
Small grants of between £1,000 and £49,999 will be available as well as up to £500,000 for major projects.
Projects must begin within 16 weeks of the award and be deliverable within 18 months – and applicants must have attempted to match-fund their projects.
In 2015 a study identified a potential gap in sporting provision across the town, exacerbated by the 6,000-plus population boom caused by the Bishop’s Stortford North developments, which would cost £22.8m to plug.
The Section 106 cash from the Stortford Fields builders also includes a further £1.095m for a football ground and pavilion at Hoggate’s Park.
The Football Association wants Bishop’s Stortford Swifts FC to relocate there and free up land for the rugby club to expand at Silver Leys – but only if adequate facilities can also be provided elsewhere for the country’s biggest youth soccer set-up, Bishop’s Stortford Community Football Club.
East Herts Council has also committed to a £22m major revamp of facilities at its Grange Paddocks leisure centre and swimming pool.