Honiton to bid for Olympic Legacy cash

Community college seeking over �500,000 to develop all-weather pitch, multi-use games area and changing facilities.

A bid is being prepared to secure more than �500,000 of Olympic Legacy cash to provide Honiton with a facility it has waited two decades for.

Honiton Community College is poised to spearhead a campaign to develop an all-weather sports pitch, new changing rooms and a multi use games area (MUGA) on land currently used for football and rugby at the school.

It is already working closely with Honiton Hornets hockey club and will be seeking support from the sport’s governing body, the Hockey Association.

Honiton Hornets lost their pitch at Allhallows Playing Field when Honiton Sports Centre was extended.

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At the time, the club says it was told by East Devon District Council that a replacement facility would be provided within 10 years.

A closed meeting will take place at the college tomorrow (Thursday) night to formally propose the bid.

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Representatives from Active Honiton, which is pursuing plans for a sports hub near Offwell, are expected to attend.

Gary Wills, the college’s financial director, said it was a “now or never” chance to secure funding for a much-needed sports facility in the town.

“This is a one-off pot of cash that Sport England has,” he said.

“If we don’t go for it now, it won’t be there next year or the year after.

“We want to apply for a sum in excess of �500,000 to provide an inspired facility.”

If successful, the bid will mean vastly improved sports facilities at the college and a top class amenity that can be used by the community outside of school hours.

Mr Wills said Honiton is one of just a few towns of its size not to have an all-weather sports pitch.

If developed, it could be used for a variety of sports - although the college would seek support from Honiton Rugby Club and East Devon District Council to make greater use of Allhallows Playing Field during the day.

Honiton Hornets have campaigned for an all-weather pitch for at least a decade.

Founded in 1977, the club currently competes on an all-weather pitch in Ottery St Mary. But, with teams from Sidmouth and Ottery using the same facility, it is struggling to keep spots for its games.

“There is a danger that, if they add one or more teams, there won’t be a slot for us,” said a spokeswoman.

Already, there are no free slots for the Hornets to train in Ottery so team members are currently forced to use netball courts in Cullompton on a bi-weekly basis.

The club, which formerly had two teams, tentatively moved from its grass pitch at Allhallows in the 1990s.

The club claims the district council said a new pitch would be developed within three years or within 10 years at the very latest.

An East Devon District Council spokesman said that, due to the long time lapse, it was not possible to comment on the claim without details of discussions or documentary evidence.

Contact the college if you would like to get involved in the bid campaign.

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