Plans to create new football hubs in Sunderland reach next stage

Sunderland West End - in red and white - played Gateshead Rutherford  at Ford Quarry last month. The site is one of three which could be revamped under plans.
Sunderland West End - in red and white - played Gateshead Rutherford at Ford Quarry last month. The site is one of three which could be revamped under plans.

Multi-million pound proposals to create new all-weather football hubs on Wearside have reached the next stage.

Sunderland City Council has submitted plans to revamp three locations as part of the Football Association’s Parklife project, which aims to improve grass roots access to pitches and programmes.

Councillor Mel Speding.

Councillor Mel Speding.

If approved, teams could be turning out on the pitches by summer 2019.

As the application process moves forward and city leaders look to access cash, the plans set out what work would be carried out, should funds be awarded.

Each of the schemes includes plans for a club room and bar, kitchen, education space and parking areas for cars and bikes.

An application has been lodged for the Community North Sports Complex, in Kingsway, Downhill, where the council wants to put in three 3G artificial pitches, with fencing and floodlighting and improvements to existing grass pitches.

Subject to planning approval being granted in the spring and a successful funding application in early summer, it is envisaged that work could commence next summer, with the hubs being operational by summer 2019.

Councillor Mel Speding

It also wants to extend and refurbish the changing pavilion and gym with changing rooms, the gym area and studio space, as well as improve other playing areas.

At Ford Quarry, in Keelmans Lane, it hopes to install drainage and put in a single artificial grass pitch and stadia, with two other artificial grass pitches with fencing and lights.

And at the Northern Area Playing Fields, in Stephenson Road, Washington, the council wants to knock down the changing pavilion and put in a new building with new changing rooms, as well as creating three artificial football and one dual football and rugby pitch there.

The council has been working alongside the FA, Sport England and the Premier League on the schemes as it plans to bid for funding.

Cabinet Secretary Councillor Mel Speding said: “Parklife Funding Partners have agreed to receive an application for three new FA Parklife football hubs in the city.

“Planning applications have been submitted for three football hubs at Ford Quarry, Downhill and Northern Area playing fields, Washington.

“These will be considered on their merits in line with local and national policies.

“Subject to planning approval being granted in the spring and a successful funding application in early summer, it is envisaged that work could commence next summer, with the hubs being operational by summer 2019.”

The proposals involve a number groups being invited to become “partner clubs” which will ensure they can access 40% of their playing time.

The council has previously said sporting organisations will pledge 60% of the cash, while the council will find the remaining funds.

The sites would be run by a contractor, with affordable prices, and a trust to oversee their use.

The council has said that by taking advantage of the funding, it hopes to reduce the pressure on grass pitch maintenance and keep the costs down for clubs.