Chiltern Hills 3G
Investing in Local Grass Roots Sport - Chiltern Hills 3G All-weather Pitch
Our local need
A public access all-weather sports pitch is a normal part of a modern community. Go anywhere in Europe, even the smallest, poorest town has a floodlit synthetic turf pitch where everyone can play outdoors all year round. Every week in Chiltern District, more than 200 teams play football and rugby, but our District is the only one in this region with no all-weather pitch to train or play on.
To fill the gap, Chiltern Hills Academy in Chesham is leading a well organised project to build Chiltern Hills 3G - a full-size public access all-weather pitch on the school campus. It will be used by schools in school hours and by clubs in the evenings, weekends and holidays. The surface looks and feels like natural grass and is designed to bounce and roll just like the real thing: 3G stands for 3rd generation synthetic turf. In their newly published Playing Pitch Strategy, Chiltern District Council has recognised the strategic need for more investment in synthetic grass pitches in the Chilterns.
Feasibility and Funding
Chiltern Hills Academy Principal Kevin Patrick has just announced an important milestone. Major funders, the Football Association and the Football Foundation, have completed a rigorous feasibility study and now happy for the school to submit a bid for funding and to apply for planning permission.
The capital cost is substantial, over £0.8m, this it is hoped will be funded through the Football Foundation, the Football Association and the Premier League but the school and local authority will help too. England Rugby are hopefully funding some of the cost so that the new facility is good for rugby training as well as football. If the planning application is successful in 2019, construction of the Chiltern Hills 3G pitch will commence at the end of the year, with completion targeted for spring 2020, and for the whole facility to be up and running for the start of the 2020-21 season.
Project volunteer Dr Mark Pegg says it’s been a long haul. Over the last 3 years there has been a great deal of detailed research and consultation with local clubs and interested parties to raise the profile of the Chiltern Hills 3G project and mobilise their support. He says, ‘We’ve shown the project meets a very real need; it will be fully used by the local community and we can demonstrate it will be financially viable’. He adds, ‘It is really pleasing to see the enthusiasm everyone has for this project and the commitment to get it funded and built’.
This still much more to do, with the launch of a public appeal in 2019 to raise the money needed to close the final funding gap. Dr Pegg says we are actively working in partnership with local clubs like Chesham Utd Ladies and Youth Teams, Chiltern Athletic and Chesham Stags to make it happen and then care for it over the long term.
The FA and England Rugby want to use the Chiltern Hills 3G pitch to boost their game. The FA is, for example, keen to see more women players, more opportunities for disabled players and to grow walking football for older players. We now have the serious prospect that, for the first time in the Chilterns, girls, boys, and players of all ages will be running out and kicking balls on a fabulous state of the art facility they can use whatever the weather.