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Fears over sports facilities in Halesworth

PUBLISHED: 13:00 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:13 06 July 2010

Victoria Nicholls

Sports teams in Halesworth could face a quarter of a century without improvements to the town's 'extremely poor' facilities, unless landowners come to the rescue, it has been warned.

Sports teams in Halesworth could face a quarter of a century without improvements to the town's "extremely poor" facilities, unless landowners come to the rescue, it has been warned.

A council document detailing proposals for development in Halesworth over the next 25 years has not earmarked a single site for developing outdoor sports provision.

Waveney District Council says it has been left "frustrated" after owners of suitable land have been unwilling to negotiate.

Town councillor Ezra Leverett said: "At the moment, there are no facilities for rugby, cricket, or hockey. For a town of this size, it is an absolute disgrace for sports teams to have to go out to other villages.

"It's the next 25 years. This is a real tragedy, as at a time when people are saying we should be encouraging young families to come to Halesworth, we are actually giving them a disincentive to stay in Halesworth."

He said that even the space which may become available at the town's middle school, which is being closed as part of the schools reorganisation, would not be enough to meet the needs of all the sports clubs.

Mr Leverett, who described the facilities as "extremely poor", said: "Halesworth is in a valley and, therefore, finding a flat surface that can be used for playing fields is extremely difficult. Anyone who has land in Halesworth appears to want to build houses on it and doesn't seem to want to make a wider commitment to the town."

Councils are required to draw up Local Development Frameworks, which outline general areas of development over a 25-year period. Waveney planning officers have made recommendations for the new framework, which will go before the full council for approval in the next few months.

A council spokesman said that even once the framework had been agreed, the council could and would continue to seek suitable sites, adding that it had £60,000 of funds for the next financial year.

The spokesman said: "There is clearly a need and demand for facilities in Halesworth, but while there is public support for sites that were initially suggested, we cannot currently recommend a site that is deliverable at this stage.

"Specifically, a site at Brick Kiln Farm was suggested during the public consultation. However, the landowner is not prepared to sell the land for this purpose."

He added: "We have offered to meet with all landowners to provide a site for sports facilities. But, so far, their agents have indicated an unwillingness to negotiate. While it is frustrating, we continue to look for a landowner who wants to assist us in delivering a site that is accessible to the community."

Tony Goldson, chairman of the Halesworth Playing Fields Associa-tion (HPFA), said: "The relationship between Waveney and the HPFA is strong and we continue to work in partnership for the benefit of Halesworth. Work will continue to deliver the right facilities and I have every confidence in the council to pull out all the stops on our behalf."

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