Shortage of sports pitches puts Olympic legacy in jeopardy - campaigner
CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Cheltenham's chronic lack of sports pitches to be addressed.
Those involved with sports teams in the town say they struggle to find enough open green spaces where youngsters can participate in ball games and get active.
Emlyn John, from Prestbury, whose two children play football, has called on the scale of the problem to be brought into focus ahead of a decision on plans to build 300 homes on land at Starvehall Farm in Prestbury.
Residents say more than three hectares of recreational land will be lost if the plans are passed on November 22. Mr John is conducting a survey to find out how many people are affected by a lack of outdoor sports facilities – in Prestbury and the rest of the town.
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"This situation affects everyone in Cheltenham who plays sport," he said. "We need a far larger number of sports training and playing facilities than what we have available at the moment.
"In the case of Starvehall Farm, we could be set to lose more land which has been used for sports and recreation in the past and could be restored to that use again.
"I just think it's a crying shame the legacy of our Olympic Games could be lost."
The apparent shortage of pitches is not limited to Prestbury.
Ian Hamilton, general secretary of the Cheltenham Football League, said the issue was high on his agenda.
"Every year we have between six and 10 new club applicants to join our league and it is a serious issue finding pitches for them to play on," he said.
The county council said its application to build at Starvehall Farm included plans to dedicate more than two hectares of open space for community use.
And the borough council said it was committed to providing sufficient sports pitches under its Green Space Strategy.
Anyone who has been affected by a lack of sports pitches in Cheltenham can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07789 777341 prior to November 22.