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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Game on! Tetbury school reveals football vision

King Charles' home town might be associated with polo, but a woeful lack of training facilities could see the town raising its football game.

Sir William Romney's school (SWR), Tetbury's secondary school which is owned by multi-academy Athelstan Trust, is asking Cotswold District Council for go ahead on a brand-new £900,000 FIFA-standard pitch, along with a spectator zone and 22 extra car park spaces at the school, which sits on the western outskirts of the town at the end of Lowfield Road.

After three possible locations were outlined, the school is seeking a 97m by 61m pitch which would be close to the school's existing sports buildings as a crucial addition to its existing grass pitches.

Richard Blacker, Athelstan's Chief Operating Officer, told "The Football Foundation is providing about 75% of the funding and we are talking to Cotswold District Council about contribution from section 106 funding; work to construct the pitch may start in January and take two to three months to complete. The target for this full-size pitch being operational will be well before September 2025 if planning permission and build timescales go as planned."

School headteacher Will Ruscoe has also encouraged parents to support the bid, which he outlined in a statement as being as much for the wider community as students.

Mr Ruscoe said: The development of the new Artificial Grass Pitch is part of a programme to improve the education, outdoor sport and community provision... The plans for the new community Artificial Grass Pitch demonstrates our commitment to physical education for all our students at SWR and our commitment to serving the local community."

He added: "This facility will not only improve the sporting facilities at the school but also open doors for community members to engage and interact."

More than 20 residents have already urged CDC to approve the scheme which, if approved, will become the school's first 3G facility and will be floodlit to enable wider evening and community use.

The proposed pitch follows consultation last year with interested and relevant parties, including: the Football Foundation, Gloucestershire FA, Wiltshire FA, Tetbury Youth FC, Avonvale United FC, Malmesbury Youth FC, Tetbury Rugby Club, Sir William Romney's School staff and community stakeholders.

Installation specialists Muga-UK Ltd told planners in a design and access statement: "The proposed Artificial Grass Pitch (AGPs) will be of a 3rd Generation format and will address an identified artificial pitch provision shortfall in the local area. It will provide a high quality floodlit facility with the primary purpose of accommodating football provision for the south Cotswold area."

It added: "Football has the highest participation of any team sport in the Country and in particular the sport has seen a growth in both the mini and 5 a-side-football formats, both of which can be played on AGPs."

Adding the AGP would be a boost to clubs, partner organisations and community groups in the surrounding area, Muga said, while a synthetic grass surface, with minimum routine maintenance could be intensively used, even for several matches on the same day, without becoming waterlogged or unplayable.

The school has also indicated it will agree on a Community Use Agreement (CUA) as a pre-usage planning condition in line with Sport England's CUA template.

Muga added: "In accordance with The Football Association's (FA) current technical guidance, the aspiration is to introduce multiple pitch markings to gain the maximum football developmental outcomes and benefit from the site footprint."

If approved, access to the site would be from 8.00am to 10.00pm on Mondays to Fridays and 9.00am to 10.00pm on weekends and bank holidays.

● With 4G and 5G yet to gain recognition, 3G is the most sophisticated artificial pitch technology to be  endorsed by major sporting bodies. It consists of long-pile synthetic grass with a height of 40mm to 65mm which is typically filled with a combination of sand and performance infill (rubber pellets).

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