Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

More than £2m to be spent on new 3G sports pitch in Torfaen /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

More than £2 million is to be spent on creating a new 3G sports pitch at a comprehensive school in the north of Torfaen. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Borough councillors, who approved using money from the UK Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, were told the artificial pitch will be built to the standards demanded by international governing body World Rugby and football counterparts FIFA, and could also include a stand for spectators. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Torfaen council’s head of public services Lyndon Puddy said it is council chief executive Stephen Vickers’ ambition that the borough hosts “tournaments and major sporting events” while he said the pitch would also meet the council’s key drivers on improving health and participation in sporting and community activity. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The pitch will replace a “turf” pitch at Abersychan Comprehensive and will be available for wider community use. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Puddy said the requirement is the pitch must be suitable for both football and competitive rugby matches and that it has floodlights, while the £2.65 million allocated to the scheme will also have to cover the cost of renovated changing rooms and agreed maintenance, management and marketing plans. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council has £2.3 million from the Shared Prosperity Fund with a further £350,000 from its own Community Focused Schools programme which will pay for relaying netball and tennis courts. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Officers will work within the budget and assess the costs as the project progresses and Mr Puddy said the council wants, and believes it can, add dugouts while brand new changing rooms, a new netball and tennis multi-court and a stand are all judged desirable and could be included if they can be met within the budget. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Puddy told the full council, which approved the spending plan at its June meeting: “The pitch will comply to both FIFA and World Rugby to enable the best standards of competition to take place and indeed I know it is an aspiration of the chief executive. We would want to be holding tournaments and other major sporting events to help with our tourism investment and open up the north of the borough.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A pitch with a small stand wouldn’t meet requirements for hosting major football or rugby events. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Mr Puddy also said there is demand among the community for enhanced sporting facilities in part due to the weather. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“We know there is demand for all weather pitches throughout the borough, particularly after 4pm, and we have significant winter, poor weather which requires more pitches with availability 365 days a year.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

According to the council’s sports development department there are 24 rugby teams, from under-sevens to seniors, with 536 players in the north of Torfaen, and 26 football teams, covering the same ages, with 499 players, while there are also 1,873 school students on roll in the area. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

A further £1 million from the Westminster government fund, which has replaced European Union support, will also be used for a 3G pitch at Llantarnam, Cwmbran – which was originally supposed to be provided through contributions from a housing developer. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Work is also due to start this year on construction of new 3G pitches at Ysgol Gymraeg Gwynllyw in Trevethin, Pontypool and Mr Puddy said there are six such artificial pitches across Torfaen of varying sizes and uses, with some not suitable for rugby matches. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Council Labour leader Anthony Hunt, who had promised a 3G pitch for the north of the borough ahead of the council elections, said: “This is not just about sport to me there are wider advantages of physical activity and I think sport improves community cohesion as teams get together.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Independent councillor for Abersychan, Giles Davies, thanked Cllr Hunt for the investment and said: “A lot of work has gone into this over seven or eight years and it is long overdue for the north and I look forward to seeing it being used by all the teams, thank you.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council has previously said construction work at Abersychan could start during the summer holidays in 2024 and last 26 weeks. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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