School to build hockey pitches despite cash loss

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NEW school hockey pitches will be built – despite two major grants falling through.

Warblington School, in Havant, was given permission to build two hockey pitches – one of international standard – costing £1.8m.

Havant Hockey Club had planned to contribute around £700,000.

This included using its savings, plus a £200,000 loan from Havant Borough Council which was dependent on a loan being granted from England Hockey – which distributes lottery funding to the sport.

But its application has been turned down and the borough council has now withdrawn its offer.

But it won’t put the hockey pitches at the school, in Southleigh Road, Havant, in jeopardy.

The school said it will pay for the entire development, funded by selling off another area of the playing fields to developers.

It’s bad news for some nearby residents who complain it will be too noisy.

Peter Eames, one of the campaigners against the plans, says the taxpayer will lose out.

‘The inference was that it was a partnership between the club and the school but if the hockey club is no longer putting this money up surely the children and the wider community will lose out?’ said the Grange Close resident.

‘The extra money could have been used on services for the children, for the community.’

But Keith Chessell, the chairman of governors at the school, said the original plan was always to pay for it from the sale of the land and it was only changed recently when the hockey club applied for the grant.

He said: ‘It was not a constraint of the planning permission, funding is an entirely different issue.

‘The money raised from the sale must go towards sport.

‘The children won’t be missing out, they will have an incredible sports facility.’

Barry Bradley, vice president of the hockey club, added: ‘We save up and every 10 years or so we upgrade and replace surfaces.

‘Obviously it made sense to put the investment into Warblington.

‘However the school prefers to own the facilities and effectively rent them to us and we did not win the funding bid anyway.’

Residents fear the quiet area will be ruined by noise and light pollution from night-time and weekend games.

The school said it will install acoustic barriers and must turn the 50ft floodlights off by 9pm.

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