After years of delays, partly due to the covid pandemic, work has finally started to upgrade the football sports facility at Days Park in Swanage, starting with the installation of new floodlights.
Pressure to get on with replacing the indoor sports centre and improving the pitch and surrounding areas at Swanage Town and Herston Football Club, has grown substantially as a record number of people are signing up to play, although the need has been identified for at least the last 20 years.
The diggers have arrived to start work
Opportunities to play at all levels
At the football club there are opportunities to play at all levels, for women as well as men, from the under 5 mini-kickers to the walking football for more senior club members.
However the indoor sports hall was closed during the pandemic and hasn’t been able to reopen, as there are holes in the roof, making the floor slippery when it rains and too dangerous to play on.
The matter has been complicated by the presence of asbestos in the roof which has made simple repairs impossible.
The old rusty floodlights have been removed
Nowhere to train over winter
This has left the teams with nowhere to train indoors, which has been a problem over the winter. To compound the issue, the floodlights installed in 1977 on the outdoor pitch have been condemned as unsafe and have been unable to be used.
The closure of the sports hall has also left the Swanage table tennis club with no suitable place to play.
Now the old floodlights have been removed and the work has begun to install the new ones. They’ve been funded by Swanage Town Council.
The only floodlight left is the phone mast that has been fitted with new floodlights
Grant for architect and consultant fees
A further grant of £55,000 was agreed at the Swanage Town Council meeting on Monday 23rd May 2022, to fund the cost of architect and consultant fees to apply for planning permission for a new 3G pitch and outline permission for a new sport and leisure centre to replace the deteriorating sports hall.
This means that the football club, backed by the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust, can get the ball rolling on the redevelopment project.
The bases for the new floodlights have been constructed – only five are required to replace the seven old lights due to their greater power and efficiency
Three phased approach
It’s now proposed to deliver the plan in three phases:
- Phase 1 – Development of the football ground to include a 3G pitch, greatly improved spectator facilities, including a new stand and new spectator toilets. The clubhouse will be refurbished and opened up for public use. This will facilitate moving all the youth teams and senior teams onto one site and make it into more of a community space
- Phase 2 – New sports hall, clubhouse and changing facilities
- Phase 3 – New public café, permanent soft play area, purpose-built gymnasium, fitness suite and an enterprise hub
A 3G sports pitch is an artificial surface that doesn’t get waterlogged or deteriorate in wet weather. The 3G stands for third generation and is a synthetic surface consisting of three elements; synthetic turf, sand infill and rubber infill.
“An important moment for the football club”
Speaking at the council meeting, chair of the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust, Bob Foster said:
“This is a huge development but by breaking it into three bite-sized chunks it will be easier to manage and fund.
“With a huge surge in the number of members at the club and an expanding youth group, it’s time to get this work underway. This is an important moment for the football club.”
Team work – Barry Audley (left) and Andy Dunster (right) getting the job done
“A real determination to get things done”
Councillor Chris Tomes said:
“I’d like to congratulate all the team – Bob Foster and Nick Spetch and all the others, who have driven this forward. There’s been a real determination to get things done and I would like to thank them all.”
The next stage will be to instruct the architects and prepare and submit the planning applications for the Days Park site, as well as start detailed discussions with grant funders.
- More about the Swanage Town and Herston Football Club is on its website