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Highworth sports plan could have bad impact on green space, say residents
PLANS for a multi-million pound sporting hub in Highworth have caused concern with some residents because of the impact on open space.
In a response to the Sporting Hub Committee’s proposal, a group of residents from across the town have consolidated to form the Highworth Residents Group.
A consultation started last month as the town seeks its share of a nearly £500m Sport England investment in grassroot sport over the next four years.
Residents have until Monday to have their say on a public consultation on the plans, which includes a floodlit artificial grass pitch at the centre, a new cricket pitch, an informal running track and more parking.
The residents group have expressed concern the plans fail to offer any additional sports to Highworth’s current provision and would reduce benefits for the golfing community.
The group claims residents of Highworth would lose a significant proportion of recreational space with enforcements on the land, which would restrict access to the enclosed pitches predominantly at weekends when the majority of residents utilise this space.
They have also identified Highworth and Warneford School as losing out because of the time spent by pupils being escorted to the new facilities.
A spokesperson for the residents’ group said: “We would like the residents of Highworth to take the opportunity to review the concept plan at the Sporting Hub drop-in sessions.
“Should these plans be agreed it would change the landscape of our hill-top town forever.
“We embrace, participate in, and support sport in Highworth but we wish to seek a balance between sport and recreation”.
Chairman of Highworth Sporting Hub, Geoff Halls, said: “This really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all sports clubs and people in Highworth.
“We have a vision for sport in Highworth and it has had some positive indications of support from funders including Sport England and the Football Foundation.
“However, in order to proceed the vision must have general community support and that is why we are undertaking this consultation.”
The public drop-in sessions have now be finished, but all households will receive a questionnaire to complete and return by Freepost.
The results of the consultation will be made public and presented to Swindon Council and Highworth Town Council.