Artificial football pitch in Biggleswade could be open for use by autumn 2023

The long-awaited 3G artificial football pitch is at Stratton Upper
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A long-awaited 3G football pitch for Biggleswade could be completed by next October, a meeting heard.

The £850,000 floodlit artificial grass playing surface at Stratton Upper School would include nine-a-side, seven-a-side and five-a-side options.

A planning application has been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council by a contractor and could reach committee stage as early as next month, Biggleswade Town Council was told.

Close up of football playerClose up of football player
Close up of football player

Director of Castele Consultancy Caroline Smith said: “We’ve been working for the last 18 months to reach this position with a full-sized, fenced, floodlit 3G artificial pitch on the site.

“It’ll be a facility suitable for both training and affiliated match play. The pitch will be for school use until 5pm and available to the general community between 5pm and 10pm.

“The site is at the back of the school sports hall, providing direct access to changing rooms. There’s a shortfall of these pitches in the town.

“The Central Bedfordshire playing pitch strategy is currently under review, which along with the local football facilities plan will identify the extent of the lack of these playing surfaces.

“There’ll be other pitches established in the town, as over the years different sites have been explored. But Stratton Upper School has been prioritised by the Bedfordshire County Football Association and the Football Foundation.

“We’ll be looking to open the site up further,” she added. “Although there’s some community use already, we want that to grow and will consider an appropriate staffing structure.

“There might be part-time or full-time employment roles to support the community aspect of the development.”

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A strong working relationship has been established with three “partnership clubs”, Biggleswade FC, Biggleswade United FC and Biggleswade FC Youth, she explained.

“There’ll be opportunities for other clubs to be involved, with a mix of formal and informal provision on the site.

“It has to deliver the targets around the FA and the Football Federation, including equal access opportunities for women and girls, and for disabled players, as well as under-represented groups through health based programmes.

“As some of the funding comes through the federation, it has to be affordable and accessible to the local community, so the pricing policy reflects its charitable aims.

“We’re looking for other partnership finance towards this project. We’re due to submit formally to the Football Foundation for funding in January.

“This won’t be an income generation for the school. It’s about being the host of a community facility.”

The carpet surface would be replaced after about ten years, according to Ms Smith, who suggested the build would take about 14 weeks, with October half-term a realistic possibility for its opening.

Mayor Grant Fage said: “I’m really excited to see this is progressing at pace now.” Deputy mayor Madeline Russell agreed, saying: “I’m delighted this is finally going ahead.”

Town councillor Duncan Strachan said: “My concern is to make sure the management structure is in place, so it operates easily and efficiently between the school and the community.”

Ms Smith replied: “There’ll be a community use agreement.”