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Sports clubs get welcome boost thanks to council

Published Friday 30 June 2017

The ambitions of two sports clubs in the Harborough district have taken a major step forward as they look to boost facilities, meet demand and harness the sporting talent of the future.

Harborough District Council has granted Market Harborough Rugby Club and Harborough Town Football Club a 50 year lease of land behind Harborough Leisure Centre in Northampton Road in Market Harborough.

The council said the decision would maximise the use of the assets for recreational purposes and help the sports clubs accommodate increased demand and potentially improve facilities.

Although the clubs already lease part of the land the council’s Executive agreed a new 50 year lease at its meeting on 29 June 2017. This will allow the rugby club to assume responsibility for two additional full sized pitches to address current demand. The football club will also be able to take on the main football pitch and surrounding land to assist in its ambitions to create a 3G (synthetic) pitch on the site having secured section 106 (developer contribution) funding towards the project.

The sports clubs have welcomed the decision and said they will continue to accommodate other sports and recreational activities on the site, as well as enhance what is already offered.

Laurence Jones, Chairman of Harborough Town Community Trust, said: “This is a massive boost for the football club that will secure the long term sustainability of the club. It will be of huge assistance in seeking funding and further investment to develop a community football facility, which will be accessible to the local community. The football club, which has 48 teams, continues to grow and the fantastic support from Harborough District Council will enable the club to meet the increased demand for high quality football facilities as the population of the town continues to increase.”

Cllr Michael Rickman, the council’s portfolio holder for well-being and localities said: “This decision will open up opportunities for these clubs to develop and grow and secure funding to do so. As well as helping people stay active these clubs are potentially developing the sporting stars of the future so we are delighted we can assist in this way.”

Cllr Phil King, deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance and assets, said: “Our aim is to maximise the use of this council-owned land for recreation purposes to benefit everyone associated with these clubs and others who may wish to use these facilities.”

Laurence Jones added: “The Harborough Town Community Trust is indebted to the council for providing Section 106 (developer contribution) towards the provision of an artificial grass pitch and the new 50 year lease will now enable the club to focus its efforts on securing the funding required to complete the installation of the new pitch for the start of the 2018/19 season.”

In June, the council launched a major survey on the future of leisure provision in the Harborough district which can be completed at www.harborough.gov.uk/active