Sports facilities in Wardle set for £200k boost from developer cash

Date published: 12 December 2018

Rutherford Park football ground in Wardle could receive a big-money boost next week thanks to funds secured from two house-building firms.

Rochdale Council cabinet members will decide on Tuesday whether to sign off the £195,000 extension of a pitch at Wardle Football Club.

The cash will come from payments by Prospect GB and Persimmon Homes, under ‘section 106’ obligations relating to planning permission for developments at Tarnside Close and Birch Hill Hospital, respectively.

Wardle FC is a large club with  two open-age sides and nine junior teams – but just one full-sized pitch and and one junior pitch on which to host matches.

But pitch space in the area is at a premium, partly due to the number of new houses that have been  built over recent years.

And the club’s honorary secretary Robert Dorrington says that extending the junior pitch to full size would make ‘a massive difference’.

He said: “We are really expanding the junior side of the football club, and the more we expand, the more pitches we need.

“We don’t have a great deal of facilities in the local area, which means we have to use other pitches outside and kids have to travel outside of Wardle village.”

Mr Dorrington added that the importance of having all the different age groups sharing the same facility should not be overlooked.

He said: “From a club perspective, if you’re all together as a group it’s a much better group and family mentality, it will make a big difference.

“Two full-sized pitches would allow both the adult teams to have a pitch and also the under-16s play on a full size pitch, and the under 11s.”

The issue of bored youngsters getting involved in anti-social behaviour is raised across borough, and Mr Dorrington believes improving facilities in Wardle will help build community cohesion.

“People are crying out for things to do - and there’s the exercise element as well,” he said.

“But it’s not just children - it’s the whole family environment. Parents come together and there’s a whole social side they get involved with.

“There are Christmas parties, end of season parties, there’s a whole community based thing it brings with it, football is almost a side issue.”

The £195,000 needed to extend the pitch is made up of £82,000 from Prospect GB and £112,000 from Persimmon Homes

A council report recommends cabinet members approve the works - already set out in the authority’s Playing Pitch Strategy - when the proposal goes before them on Tuesday.

And those involved with the club are crossing their fingers cabinet gives the nod for the £195,000 to be invested in the ‘much needed’ pitch upgrade.

“We are hopeful,” said Mr Dorrington. “It’s something that has been going on for a while, we’ve been discussing it with the council for two or three years now, it’s taken a lot of planning and getting there.

“There have been surveys and samples and hopefully we have done everything required and now it’s for the councillors to give approval.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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