Sports leaders call for better facilities in Honiton

PUBLISHED: 11:30 01 December 2014

Boy playing football

Boy playing football

Archant

EDDC is currently creating a strategy document for future pitch provision in the town

Young rugby players are being forced to train in car parks due to a lack of sporting facilities in Honiton.

And several clubs have been left with no choice but to practise elsewhere because of the same problem.

Both matters were brought to light at a meeting between sporting leaders and district planners to discuss future sports facilities in Honiton.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is currently creating a strategy document for future pitch provision for the town.

An EDDC planning policy officer led the discussions at a meeting last Thursday.

Under the current draft proposals, Allhallows, Mountbatten Park and the playing pitch at St Rita’s in Honiton would all have improvements made to them.

These would increase their capacity and enable more games to be played on them.

Sporting leaders agreed that improvements need to be made, but stated that Honiton needed more pitches.

Gary Wills, Honiton Community College’s finance director, is campaigning for the installation of a 3G all-weather pitch. He told the meeting that if such a pitch was installed in the school grounds, it could be used by clubs for evening and weekend training.

Jerry Rice, secretary of Honiton Rugby Football Club, said that it can not book any halls to train in.

The lack of facilities in Honiton has also forced junior club players to practise in a car park during wet weather.

Mr Rice said the club is ‘trying to solve the problem’, adding: “There are not enough sporting facilities for anyone in this town.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Rice said: “We are behind our competitors because we thought we were moving.

“For the last 20 years, we have been waiting for somebody to come up with something tangible.

“But we have given up and are doing it ourselves. Clearly our facilities are not good enough but we just about get by.”

The planning officer discussed the viability of a multi-purpose sports complex at Tower Hill, on the edge of Honiton.

Sporting leaders flagged up several issues with the site, including the ‘hilly and slippery’ walk young club players would face when walking to the complex.

Tower Hill’s accessibility and public transport links were also questioned

Mike Allen, district councillor for Honiton, said the strategy ‘needs changing’ for the town, and urged sporting leaders to make a decision on the Tower Hill site.

Cllr Allen said that if leaders could agree to designate the site to the plan, interim improvements could be made on existing pitches while the development goes ahead.

“The only way forward is a sequential approach,” he added.

The planning officer told the meeting there were a lot of things on the plan which needed to be amended and he urged attendees to check the draft plan to see that it has the right information in it.

The next step will be gathering the correct data and information from all clubs and analysing it to find out how many pitches Honiton is short of.

Following that, considerations will be made on viable and deliverable solutions including Tower Hill and potentially other sites, if they exist.


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