MP Priti Patel visited Witham Sports Ground in Spinks Lane on Friday 1st December to meet members of the Essex County FA and the Football Foundation, to take a tour of the facilities and to discuss planned grassroots football investment in the area.
We're currently working on a portfolio of 3G Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) projects with Braintree District Council, utilising around £1.2m of Section 106 monies. This site was highlighted as an example of the impact that investment has made for local constituents so far.
Braintree Council recently approved the Section 106 funding to help deliver a scheme to provide four new 3G pitches in Braintree and Witham. This came after public feedback for more availability of pitches due to increased demand for affiliated and recreational use.
The council are working with the Essex County FA and the Football Foundation on the technical development of these projects through their framework process, and on programmes of use with clubs and community partners. All four of these project applications are currently on-track to be submitted imminently:
* Witham Sports Ground
* Alec Hunter Academy
* New Rickstones Academy
* Notley High School
Club and partner engagement is well underway, and a consultant is working across the projects to develop a mixed programme of use, with some excellent outcomes for grassroots football and the local communities across Braintree and Witham.
Priti was keen to raise a number of local topics with representatives, including a discussion on a several projects to improve access to quality places to play for local residents. After the tour, she commented: “It was a real pleasure to meet the team from the Essex County Football Association and the Football Foundation.”
“I was pleased to discuss how we can work together to support local grassroots sports clubs in the constituency. Local clubs are lifelines to so many people both for physical and social activity. The discussions I had about supporting local projects were productive.”
Patel, Member of Parliament for Witham, met County FA representatives Brendan Walshe (Chief Executive) and Nick Emery (Head of Development & Investment). Brendan explained: “We understand that good facilities make a significant difference to players' experiences of the game, and they can help to grow and sustain participation.”
“Our strategic role in the development of projects like those planned for Witham Sports Ground is vital for the future needs of the game. Working with Braintree District Council across a portfolio of projects to utilise this Section 106 funding is an innovative approach which will have a lasting impact on grassroots football in the local area.”
Nick added: “We work closely with our colleagues at the Football Foundation, who have invested millions of pounds into grassroots football facilities across Essex. We’re proud to play a key strategic part in these ongoing developments.”
Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure at Braintree District Council, said: “This is a great example of where the planning process can play a crucial role in securing financial contributions from developers that can be used to improve community facilities.”
“This contribution will, hopefully, leverage a larger investment to improve the district’s outdoor sports facilities. We continue to work hard to bring in Section 106 contributions to support with much-needed infrastructure improvements and community facilities to benefit our communities.”
Click here to find out more about the facility development work which takes place across Essex. Information is also shared by @EssexCountyFA on Twitter/X and via the ‘EssexFootball’ page on Facebook. Looking to upgrade the facilities at your grassroots football venue? E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discussion.