Policy ARL12: Provision of Sports Facilities

The Policy

Proposals which provide for additional sports facilities, open in character and over and above those which already exist, on the proposed additional ‘first’ school site, and which meet the requirements of the school and the wider community, will be encouraged.

Proposals which would enable the extension of the current recreation ground, adjacent to the existing site will be supported.

The Background

Through the Neighbourhood Plan engagement process, the existing community of Arlesey has identified the need for improvements to community infrastructure. The population of the parish has grown fairly rapidly over the last 10 to 15 years and will increase again significantly as the Arlesey Cross development is built. Enhancements to existing infrastructure, and new additions, will be needed to meet the demands of this growth.

Current provision comprises the leisure facilities situated at the back of the Community Centre Complex off the High Street, consisting of the recreation ground, a children’s play area and the MUGA centre (Multi Use Games Area). The MUGA centre has a hard court surface area suitable for 5 a side football, tennis, netball etc.

The growth in population is likely to need additional leisure facilities to support it and the Neighbourhood Plan engagement reinforced this view. Facilities mentioned as being needed included a dog park (for people to walk their dogs), a country park, tennis courts, bowls green, community orchard and cricket pitches.

The Arlesey Cross Masterplan engagement process also revealed the need to provide additional community leisure facilities and sets out the following: a community orchard, sports pitches with open space attached and a new town park. There has been support for the idea of extending the existing recreation ground to ‘square this off’.

The proposal for the sports pitches on the eastern land is adjacent to the proposed first school site and would allow for shared changing facilities and community uses. Applicants should comprehensively engage with the community to agree provision and locations.

The current recreation ground has always belonged to the local school but in 2015 a decision was taken to fence it off so that children could play on some grass, without teachers having to scout the area beforehand and pick up dog mess. Whilst this has been a positive step for the school, it has resulted in the loss of accessible open space for the wider community and there is a desire locally to identify additional space elsewhere to make up for what is essentially a net loss. There is land available adjacent to the existing recreation ground and discussions should take place to see if there is potential to use this.