The Executive Member for Regeneration and the Director of Regeneration and Culture submitted a report for the Executive’s consideration. The purpose of the report was to provide information on the next steps to deliver the Council’s aim for an exciting and transformational new £3.7m Community and Sport Centre, which planned to help regenerate East Middlesbrough and greatly improve the lives of local people.
The report recommended that Executive approved a further £900,000 towards the new Southlands Centre project. The investment planned to see a total of £2.1m spent on phase one and a further £1.5m would deliver new and improved outdoor sport facilities built on the site and demonstrate the Council’s ongoing commitment to sports provision in the town.
It was planned that the Sporting Hub would include the creation of new grass pitches, a new Third Generation Football Turf Pitch (3G FTP), the refurbishment of an existing 3G pitch and the Unity City Academy changing rooms, additional new changing rooms and extra car parking to deliver an exemplar facility.
In addition to the £1.7m Council funding already committed to the project, further sums of £600,000 and £500,000 had been secured from the Football Foundation and Towns Fund respectively to demonstrate the Council’s commitment to partnership working to deliver positive outcomes for the town.
The preferred location for the centre had been originally identified as land that could be used to mitigate for the loss of playing pitch provision to facilitate the development of new, high quality, family housing at Marton Avenue. To overcome the issue, the Council had engaged positively with Sport England to develop a solution that planned to meet the needs for playing pitch provision and could allow the housing development to progress.
A planning application was expected to be submitted in August 2022 with construction of the centre due to start in November 2022.
The submitted report’s recommendations satisfied the requirements of the local community and Sport England and met the aims and objectives of the Council.
Representations were made by local community groups in support of the proposal to develop the Community and Sport Centre in East Middlesbrough, the positive feedback received was acknowledged and valued.
The preferred site for the new Community Centre at the Southlands had been initially identified as the location for the re-provision of lost playing fields due to the housing development at Marton Avenue.
An alternative recommendation could have looked to re-provide the playing pitches in that location, allowing the planning condition to be achieved without the need to provide any additional sporting facilities as identified within the Southland Vision Document (see Appendix 1). However, that recommendation would have required a new site location to be sourced for a new Community Centre, which would not likely meet the local community’s preferences.
In addition, any alternative location for the centre would have potentially required Middlesbrough Council to re-provide lost playing fields or pitches, should the new location fall within Sport England classifications. If that was the case, new facilities would have been needed and that could have potentially caused further re-provision issues at a later date.
Another alternative would have been not to deliver a new community centre in East Middlesbrough, but that would have been a reputation risk to the Council and would not have met the identified local needs.
1. That the allocation of additional funding for Southlands (£900,000), as set out within the report, be approved.
2. That discussions continue with Sport England on the sport provision at Southlands to enable the lifting of planning conditions relating to Marton Avenue.
3. That authority be delegated to the Director of Regeneration and Culture and the Director of Finance, to adjust any final budget allocations, subject to the final agreed specifications, to ensure the timely delivery of the facilities, insofar as the project being delivered within the approved delivery budget highlighted within the report.
As identified within the Middlesbrough Council Playing Pitch Strategy, there was a under supply of sporting provision in East Middlesbrough. The Project Delivery Plan identified the recommendation, which planned to assist the Council and its key strategic partners to define a way forward for potential development of the Southlands site. In summary, the scheme planned to deliver:
a) phase 1 of a new Community Centre, as outlined, designed to allow construction of additional phases in the future;
b) resurfacing of the existing Third Generation Football Turf Pitch (3G FTP);
c) a new 3G FTP pitch;
d) refurbishment of existing changing facilities at the Unity City Academy;
e) construction of new changing facilities either as part of the new community centre, or a stand-alone modular building to the south of the site;
f) x2 new Natural Turf Pitches (9v9); and
g) additional parking facilities.
The development of a new community building was paramount to all local residents and community groups, and the proposed creation of a sporting hub was referenced in Middlesbrough Council’s adopted Playing Pitch Strategy, and Local Football Foundation Plans.
The recommendation planned to allow amendments of an existing objection to residential development (which would result in a loss of playing pitches) by the provision of new natural turf pitches as part of overall redevelopment of the Southlands site.