A MULTI-MILLION plan is being considered to improve outdoor public sports facilities in Weymouth.

The planning proposal, for the Redlands Sports and Community Hub, includes the refurbishment of an existing floodlit 3G pitch and building a new floodlit 3G pitch.

One of the aims is to encourage female football and to offer more hours of all-weather training and competition.

Also planned is a new maintenance building, new pedestrian perimeter path, the relocation of the practise cricket nets and a new cricket match wicket with areas for spectators.

A reinforced grass matting overflow parking area, new fencing and landscaping works are also part of the planning application, which has just been made available for public consultation.

The site of the new proposed pitch.The site of the new proposed pitch. (Image: Redlands Sports and Community Hub)

The centre, which used to be run by Weymouth College, is now operated by Active Dorset, a charity which has been established to support local people to become more active and is backed by both Dorset Council and Weymouth Town Council.

The current outdoor facilities on the 13.5 hectare site include grass football pitches of varying sizes and an existing 3G pitch which is to be refurbished as part of the application, a cricket pitch which is home to Weymouth Cricket Club and a sand-based hockey pitch that is run independently by Weymouth Hockey Club.

Active Dorset also operate Wey Valley Tennis Centre, opposite the Redlands site, which has four full sized indoor tennis courts and provides year round tennis.

The centre say the refurbished pitch and new 3G facility will greatly enhance the hours and range of uses and remove the chances of ‘rain stopped play’ which has been a feature of the site in recent years, when pitches have become waterlogged.

Full costs of the improvements have not been made public, because of commercial sensitivities, but it is hoped that grant funding from the Football Foundation will meet most of the bill.

According to Sport England, a 3G football pitch of 106m x 70m will cost between £1,075,000 and £1,130,000 depending on the thickness of astroturf, the price including the 3G pitch, fencing, and floodlighting.

Proposed lay out for the new pitch and refurbished existing pitch.Proposed lay out for the new pitch and refurbished existing pitch. (Image: Redlands Sports and Community Hub)

Said a supporting document with the planning request: “The introduction of this new proposal will expand and improve the facilities available at the site and within the wider community, thus encouraging a wider range of participants.

The FA are actively promoting women/girls’ football with an aim to dramatically increasing the levels of female participation in the sport and it is therefore envisaged that this new facility will assist in achieving this aim.

“The synthetic pitch will help to raise the standard of play and training opportunities within the local area as well as hopefully enhancing user’s enjoyment of sport. The proposed facility is expected to be used for football, although the proposed surface is also suitable for other appropriate general training/physical education activities.”

The new 3G pitch will be built on the site of an existing grass playing field with two adjoining pitches to the north and west retained in alternative positions.

Hours of use are proposed to be 8am to 10pm with the belief that some clubs, which currently train in unsuitable locations, including outside the area, will switch to Redlands.

“The provision of a new Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) will provide increased usage to the existing grass playing field, for benefit of clubs, partner organisations and community groups in the surrounding area, including local junior/youth football clubs and thus gain the maximum football developmental outcomes, during the day, in the evenings and at weekends via pre-arranged and structured community access,” said the supporting report to Dorset councillors who will decide the application.

Among the supporting infrastructure will be a 4.5m high fencing and gates around the new pitch with the existing 3G pitch fencing to be replaced by similar fencing and gates. Six 15m high sports light columns mounted with LED bulbs will be used on the new 3G pitch with the existing 3G lighting is be replaced with six similar light columns.

Redlands Proposed Block PlanRedlands Proposed Block Plan (Image: Redlands Sports and Community Hub)

Four 6m high streetlights will be added to the access path between the existing changing block and both 3G pitches. The height of the 10 x 20m maintenance building between the 3G pitches will be 4.5m heigh.

The report claims that the light levels will be below guidelines and “will not impact unduly on neighbouring properties.”

Said the report: “Whilst the proposal would not provide new space, it would provide an enhanced facility, which would enable sport to be played throughout the year, whereas currently the grass playing field can only be used in good weather during daylight hours…

“The proposed pitch would make a significant contribution towards addressing the unmet demand for modern football facilities and would allow users of the site including partner football clubs to focus on training in one venue and provide access during peak community use periods thereby gaining greater control over facility availability and pricing.

The proposal would meet the need identified as being required within the area by the Football Association (FA). The FA are actively promoting women/girls’ football and this new facility would support the aim to develop the female game locally.”