Analysis of sporting need will help council pitch for funding

Fresh insights into how many football pitches, tennis courts and other sports facilities the district will need in the coming years will help the council with future funding bids.

Published: Friday, 4th November 2022

Children playing football

The information is mapped out in a key document called Cherwell Sports Studies and is set to be approved by Cherwell District Council’s executive on Monday 7 November.

Among its recommendations it projects a new indoor tennis court for Banbury, a football hub at Graven Hill in Bicester, and new football pitches in Kidlington.

Councillor Phil Chapman, Portfolio Holder for Healthy Communities, said: “Playing sport and staying active has profound benefits for people’s health and happiness, and we’re determined to make sure everyone who wants to get involved in their chosen sport can access a suitable facility.

“As the district continues to grow in the coming years, we think it’s essential to have up-to-date projections of which facilities will be needed where. These studies have been independently commissioned and when we come to reach legal agreements with housing developers or apply to national funding bodies, the Cherwell Sports Studies give us the hard evidence we need to make a strong case.”

The document assesses individual sports by their current supply and demand in individual areas of the district. They have then been assessed against future population growth.

The studies recommend that by 2040 Bicester and Kidlington leisure centres will need to be upgraded; new pitches for football, rugby and cricket across the district will need to be provided; and the provision of swimming pools should be increased in Bicester.

The Cherwell Sports Studies will also be used as an evidence base in the ongoing preparation of the council’s new Local Plan, the policy document which allocates land for the future development of housing and infrastructure.

Cllr Chapman added: “As part of the process of approving applications for planning permission, the council routinely negotiates legal agreements with developers which can secure funding for facilities such as sports pitches. Having updated information about future need strengthens our hand when we are making our case, both to developers and the other external bodies we may apply to for funding.”

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