Date published: 4th December 2018

Plans for an artificial grass sports pitch in North Walsham were approved at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council’s Cabinet on Monday, December 3rd.

The facility, which would be available primarily for football, but with others sports depending on wider demand, will cost an estimated £860,000. It will be developed as a joint project between the Council, the Football Foundation and North Walsham High School.

It will be available for both school and public use under the Dual Use Sports Centre arrangement in place between the Council and the school, and would increase participation in sport for a wide range of age groups. The facility shall be floodlit and fully enclosed, and provide improved parking and changing facilities on the school site.

Under the proposals, the school will provide the land with North Norfolk District Council paying 40% of the capital cost, and the Football Foundation paying the remaining 60%.

The need for the pitch has been made in a feasibility study commissioned by the Council, which identified an initial cost estimate of £810,000 for the pitch plus applications for funding, design and planning; plus another £50,000 to add a ‘shock pad’ system so the facility can cater for other sports such as rugby. The latter £50,000 cost was not eligible for Football Foundation grant funding, meaning the North Norfolk District Council contribution would be £374,000 and the Football Foundation contribution would be £486,000.

The Council will largely recoup its capital costs via user income through the Dual Use Sports Centre arrangement, where the Council manages school sports facilities for community use outside school hours. That income shall also provide a ‘sinking fund’ for future renewal of the pitch surface which has an estimated lifetime of around ten years.

A council spokesman said: “We have been working with the Football Association (FA) for some time on this proposal and the need for the artificial grass pitch was clearly made. In fact, Football Foundation grant funding is available for 60% of the capital cost, higher than the usual 50%, because there is such a clear demonstration of demand and need.

“There is good demand from clubs locally and a particular emphasis on girls’ and women’s football. With Sport England’s involvement, the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, which runs across all sports and active leisure activities, will be at the forefront of operating the facility.

“There is also a growing emphasis on walking football for older people to help them maintain activity and independence.” 

The Cabinet report recommends appointing the FA and its appointed consortium to provide the professional services required to design and oversee the project on the Council’s behalf.

The current project timeline would see North Norfolk District Council submit a funding application for an April 2019 deadline, with a decision being made by the FA in July 2019 and completion before the end of 2019.


Last updated: 4th December 2018