Derbyshire Dales District Council is consulting with local people throughout September on an agreement to lease for 50 years public open space at Ashbourne Recreation Ground, enabling redevelopment of the Memorial Pavilion to create a new state-of-the-art facility.
Restrictions within the lease to registered charity Ashbourne Recreation Ground Sports & Community Partnership (ASCP) are that the land remains as an asset to be used for the benefit of the community.
Now ASCP say they are on target to start building work in January next year and hope to see the project completed by this time next year.
At a meeting at the end of August the District Council, which owns and operates the Recreation Ground, unanimously approved the lease of almost half an acre of land - and the authority will be contributing match funding of around £150,000 towards the project, spending a further £42,000 on improvements to the park's three football pitches.
In June 2018 ASCP and the council agreed to explore ways to improve sports pavilion facilities given the poor condition of the existing buildings on the Recreation Ground.
Since then ASCP have continued to develop the scheme including commissioning civil engineers, architects, project managers and quantity surveyors to produce a detailed costed design specification for the new pavilion building, for which planning permission has been obtained.
The total cost of delivering the scheme - which will include public toilets - will be around £830,000, including demolition of the existing Memorial pavilion and construction of the new facility over 10 months.
ASCP continues to work for external funding, and one significant source is via the Football Foundation which is subject to various requirements regarding security of tenure of the sports pitches.
The District Council's Leader Councillor Garry Purdy said:
"Since becoming Leader I have been determined that Ashbourne receives the focus it deserves because some of the facilities in the park are in a very poor state. I appreciate the hard work undertaken over a number of year by the Community Partnership and our own officers to get us to this stage - and now we need to show faith in this project on behalf of the people of Ashbourne and get this moving."Councillor Purdy added that it had been agreed that if ASCP hit any problems raising the necessary money to fund the project the matter would go back to council for discussion.
ASCP Chairman John Lake said:
"This project is a credit to the partnership approach adopted by the District Council in supporting our community partnership in taking forward such a complex and important new investment in the town."The partnership's secretary David Wood added:
"It is with great pride that we have reached this momentous milestone. Some seriously hard work is now required to get this project over the line so that we can commence build in January 2021 and it is with confidence that I am able to confirm that the infrastructure is in place to enable us to complete our task by this time next year.”