Fears Sale Of Smaller Bradford Sports Facilities Could Fund Larger ‘Hubs’

The proposed new Wyke Sports Village.

It's part of Bradford Council's £15m new playing pitch strategy.

Councillors praised multi-million-pound plans to boost three sports sites in the district – but fears were raised that smaller facilities “on communities’ doorsteps” may be lost.

Three new “district-wide multi-sports hub sites” will be created under Bradford Council’s new playing pitch strategy, with the first project being the long-mooted Wyke Sports Village – to be built on the former Wyke Manor School site.

When it is complete it will feature new sports pitches, a cycle track, replacing the track at Richard Dunn Sports Centre, and a new community building.

The Wyke project was discussed by members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee at a meeting on Tuesday.

The overall playing pitch strategy will cost £15 million and also involve new hubs being create at Marley Playing Fields in Keighley and Myra Shay Sports Ground off Barkerend Road.

Numerous other facilities will be upgraded or refurbished.

But other redundant or underused sites are likely to be sold by the Council, which has budgeted a £3.5 million income from such sales.

One way the Council plans to fund the Wyke Sports Village is through the sale of one sports pitch – off Shetcliffe Lane in Bierley.

At the meeting John Schofield, Bereavement & Amenity Manager for the Council, told members that the Council was hoping to raise £1.6 million through the sale of that site, and that the land would “likely” be used for housing in the future.

Other funding will come from the Football Foundation and British Cycling, and the site will become the new home for two football teams.

Members heard that underused playing pitch facilities at Dick Lane were also likely to be sold to fund the wider scheme.

Councillor Riaz Ahmed (Lib Dem, Bradford Moor) said: “I represent one of the wards that will have one of these hubs. Myra Shay is getting quite a chunk of money.

“But I think this shouldn’t be at the expense of smaller fields. I don’t have a problem with large unused being sold, but I would worry if smaller spaces are taken away from the doorsteps of some of our communities. We can’t cut these communities’ facilities to pay for just three large ones.”

Mr Schofield said: “Some smaller sites will cease to operate as playing pitches. Planning requirements for recreational space are quite strict and there will be a full planning process required should we be wanting to sell these sites.”

Councillor Kamran Hussain (Lab, Toller) said: “I really welcome the report. We are in hard financial times and it is difficult to come up with three schemes like this that will benefit the community.”

Councillor Joanne Dodds (Lab, Great Horton) said: “This is a great investment into the district and into Wyke.”

Overall the new plan will see £10,523,000 invested in the three district hubs, including Wyke, and another £3,130,000 invested in creating five “local multi-sports hub sites” – one in each of Bradford’s constituencies.

An extra £1,200,000 will be spent on improving a number of individual pitches and sports facilities.

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