A £4.5m state-of-the-art sports facility in Havant has moved a step closer.
Councillors at Hampshire County Council agreed yesterday to approve designs for a new synthetic turf pitch at Warblington School.
The pitch, costing around £1m, is the first phase of a huge project to revamp sport facilities at the school in Southleigh Road.
The new facilities will be paid for by selling off an unused section of the school’s playing field, off New Lane, which is set to be redeveloped for 78 homes.
Work is set to start on the floodlit pitch in May and be finished by September.
After this, the school plans to use the rest of the cash from the sale of the land to build a multi-use games area and sports hall, as well as refurbish tennis courts.
The pitch will be mainly used for football, as well as hockey, and will be able to be hired by clubs in the local area outside of school hours.
Headteacher Julia Vincent said the schoolchildren had had to contend with water-logged pitches for too long.
She said: ‘It’s well-deserved by the school.
‘The school’s sports facilities have been pretty poor to date.
‘It’s a tremendous opportunity for the school.
‘We live in close proximity to our neighbours and we feel this will be of tremendous benefit to the school and also the local community.
‘It’s going to extend the type of activities they can do.’
Warblington School will not become the new base for Havant Hockey Club, however.
In 2010 planning permission was granted to build two all-weather pitches at the school and the club relocate from Havant College.
Barry Bradley, vice president of the club, explained: ‘The original grand plan of two hockey pitches on the site is no longer.
‘The school decided they wanted to do something different.
‘As far as the concept of this being our strategic home – that might happen in the future but is not currently on the table.
‘On the other hand, having a second hockey pitch in the area is very welcome as we are having to use Portsmouth at the moment.
‘We are working with the borough council to try and establish a strategic home for the club.’
The final go-ahead for the all-weather pitch will be made on April 18. It is hoped to have all the new facilities in place by September 2014.