IMPROVEMENTS to sport grounds and a pavilion in a Hampshire village have started after four years of work.

Shedfield Parish Council identified the need for an extension to the pavilion at the Recreation Ground and improvements to the sport ground in 2018.

Previously, the site had one undersized football pitch and an incorrectly orientated cricket strip. Also, the changing rooms fell short of current standards.

The parish council decided to use some Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to address the issues. They contacted the FA and they have helped to support them through a programme of improvements.

After turning the cricket pitch 90 degrees to correctly orientate it, they added a new 9 v 9 football pitch, as well as sizing up the existing 11 v 11 pitch.

The Football Foundation were then able to supply £18,000 over six years to improve the condition of the grounds to support additional matches on site.

The Football Foundation, with funding from the Premier League, the FA and Government, then also gave a £100,000 contribution towards improving the changing room facilities as well as extending the pavilion so they could open it up as a community facility for people to use as a social and leisure venue.

At that point they approached Winchester City Council CIL for additional funding and they were able to contribute £100,000 towards the project.

Shedfield Parish Council originally employed Axis Architecture in Wickham to draw up plans which were then submitted to Winchester City Council. The extension at that time was expected to cost £400,000 and be delivered six months after planning permission was granted.

However, various impacts caused the project to be pushed back.

Cllr Linda Warren said: “The pandemic, Brexit, war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis all then impacted the project and it has taken determination and resilience to keep the project on track.

“Timescales were stretched and costs inevitably soared with the final build cost rising to £520,000. Luckily, the Football Foundation and Winchester City Council both recognised the inevitability of the situation and both revised their offers. The Football Foundation’s final contribution was £160,000 and Winchester City Council CIL have now allocated £150,000 to the project.”

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The project started on July 18, and is expected to last six months. They are using Quaystone Projects Ltd of Southampton to carry out the work.

Cllr Warren said: “Shedfield Parish Council have remained determined throughout this extended period of time to deliver on the project, despite all the obstacles. We have been delighted that we had an immediate uptake on our extended pitch provision and now have four football clubs and a cricket club making use of the grounds on a regular basis.

“Once the pavilion has been extended we will be able to open up the clubhouse to our community and hope to see it used extensively. With bi-fold doors and a light, airy and modern interior we can see this being a popular venue for indoor/outdoor parties as well as any number of social and leisure activities.

“We look forward to welcoming as many people as possible to what is a community facility and welcome any suggestions for use and bookings for events.

“As lead on this project I had no idea at the time of what I was letting myself in for. No-one could have foreseen all the obstacles that were put in our way, but by employing a “one step at a time” approach we have finally been successful in delivering on our aspirations for the pavilion.”

Sacha Nicholas, from Hampshire FA, said: “Despite the pandemic the parish council have worked tirelessly to develop the recreation ground over the last four years. They have responded well to advice from the grounds maintenance association, the Hampshire Cricket Board, Hampshire FA and Football Foundation so we have already seem improvements to the management of the grass pitches.

“This longer term project to improve the ancillary provision has nearly come to fruition and local sports teams and community clubs are looking forward to benefitting from this enhanced community facility.”

After the work is complete, the parish council will be holding an open day with an opening ceremony.

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