A SPORTING hub in Stratford providing state-of-the-art facilities for all is in the pipeline.
King Edward VI School has unveiled plans for its Manor Road Sports Ground which include installing a floodlit artificial hockey pitch which converts into 12 tennis courts in the summer.
The 1971 listed pavilion would also be modernised with the outdated communal changing and shower areas replaced by four new changing rooms with individual shower cubicles and toilet facilities, as well as a first aid room.
The facilities, for which planning permission has already been granted, would be used seven days a week by both the school and the wider community.
The scheme has the backing of Sport England and Hockey England as well as Stratford Hockey Club, Stratford Football Club junior section and local junior schools.
Funding the scheme would mean the school selling off a small part of the sports ground to developers for the building of six houses.
The plan also includes a new access road leading to a 60-space car and coach park, which will allow disabled access to the pavilion and emergency vehicles to reach the pitch-side, and which the school believes will significantly reduce congestion, especially on match days.
Previous attempts by the school to sell off part of the sports ground, which the school acquired back in 1927, have met with anger from neighbouring residents.
But headmaster Bennet Carr hopes townspeople will recognise the benefit to the community of the new plans.
Mr Carr said: “Since first obtaining planning permission for the artificial pitch in 2008, the school has explored a wide range of potential funding streams, including a bid to Sport England supported by our partners.
“Regrettably, all such efforts have been unsuccessful. The school is therefore investigating the possibility of selling a small, unused area of land to fund these vital improvements.
“The plan, which is significantly smaller than historic proposals, suggests a continuation of the existing housing line which lies outside the area used for sport. Overall the development site is 0.39 acres – a little over two per cent of the total area. Up to six detached, two-storey properties are proposed that are set back from the road to enable the existing mature tree canopy to be retained as far as is possible.
“The proposed development is an enabling act to deliver these new facilities, which we hope will be welcomed by the community as a whole.”
Mr Carr emphasised how important the new facilities would be to the school.
“KES is passionate about sport and the benefits it provides young people. This year students will be involved in over 400 competitive fixtures in 11 different sports, with over 160 players representing the school each Saturday.
“Unlike many state secondary schools, K.E.S. does not have access to its own all-weather sports pitch. As a result, the school currently has to transport students to locations outside Stratford for training, and the extensive hockey and tennis fixture lists require all matches to be played away from home.”