Kick off approaches for new student and community sports ground

17 November 2017

Full planning permission has now been given for a new student and community sports facility in Girton, allowing building work to begin.

Anglia Ruskin University will demolish the existing building on their land at Howes Close to make way for a new sports pavilion including changing rooms and artificial pitches with floodlights.

In addition to use by ARU students, the venue will be subject to a community use agreement which will secure access for residents and sports groups at various times across the year.

The Council’s Planning Committee gave delegated approval for the project back in April, subject to a legal agreement being signed to secure certain obligations, like how the facility will be managed and the establishment of a code of conduct.

The artificial nature of the new pitches will mean they are available for use all-year round, eliminating the risk of fixtures being called off at short notice because of waterlogging due to harsh weather.

The pitches will primarily be used for football and hockey matches. Both the Football Association and England Hockey wrote letters in support of the new facilities, while Sport England say they will ‘make a positive contribution to sport’ for both the university and local community.

Additional car and cycle spaces will also be built on the land, which has been recognised as an under-utilised leisure space up to this point.

Council officers and ARU staff have worked with residents living near to the site to address concerns about the modernised sports area. These include:

  • Shortening the hours the pitches can be used
  • Making sure the floodlights will be switched off by 9pm during the week and earlier at weekends
  • Ensuring those using the sports venue sign up to a code of conduct to make sure they respect neighbours while using the facilities

The new pavilion and sports facilities will lie in part of the green belt, a location where a very high bar is set for development. As is necessary for any development proposal on green belt land, the plans were sent to the Secretary of State for review. The Secretary confirmed he is happy with them.

Cllr Robert Turner, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Anglia Ruskin University, and residents, on new facilities that will clearly be well used by both students and the community.

“The new artificial pitches will also mean our local teams can be certain that their fixtures will go ahead, regardless of how much rain we get during winter. That certainty is a big deal for teams who look forward to matchday each week.

“It’s great news that in the not too distant future, both students and members of the local community will be tying up their boots and heading out onto some brilliant new pitches.”