A free-to-use artificial football pitch that is enjoyed by thousands of residents every year is being refurbished.
A 3G pitch is set to replace a previous sand based synthetic pitch that opened 15 years ago. The work is being funded by a £36,000 grant from Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Community Investment Fund following an application by the Friends of Hanley Park group. The money will also pay for new goalposts, a maintenance machine and improved signage.
Carole Ware, chairman of the Friends of Hanley Park group, said: “This is a really popular and well used facility in the park and it’s great to see it being refurbished. These types of pitches can cost more than £40 an hour to hire at some places, and a lot of the people who use the pitch in the park have told me they simply can’t afford to pay that when I’ve spoken to them, which gives you an indication of how important this one is. The current pitch had been down for 15 years and had come to the end of its lifespan, so being able to replace it with a new 3G pitch that will continue to be free to use is absolutely brilliant. It ticks all the boxes for promoting people to exercise, take part in sport and encouraging social inclusion, and it gives people another reason to visit the park. We’re really thankful to have received this funding from the council’s Community Investment Fund so the work can be carried out.”
The pitch will be free to use by the public between 6am and 9am, 1pm and 4.30pm and 6.30pm and 10pm, with it being available for bookings by clubs, community groups or schools and colleges between 9am and 1pm and 4.30pm and 6.30pm. It is floodlit until 9pm and is covered by the park’s CCTV cameras.
Since 2015, the park has been undergoing a major restoration of its historic core after the city council was successful with a multi-million pound bid to the HLF and Big Lottery Fund. Features including the main pavilion, bandstand and Hammersley Fountain have all been restored and brought back to life, with improvements also carried out to gardens, footpaths, canal bridges and park fences.
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for environment, said: “The park is looking fantastic now as we near the end of the restoration project, the biggest of its kind since the facility opened in 1897. We want the park to be a thriving, family-friendly venue which has something for everyone, and we are seeing that now with the restoration of the main pavilion as a café, music performances returning to the bandstand and soon the opening of this brilliant 3G football pitch. This will be a really great addition to the park’s facilities and I’m looking forward to seeing it being used.”
Launched in 2017, the city council’s Community Investment Fund has handed out £3 million to a total of 142 groups, clubs and organisations in all corners of the city. Under the fund, grants of up to £50,000 were made available, which could be spent on new equipment or improvements to building and infrastructure. Projects to benefit from the fund have ranged from bringing disused land back to life for the benefit of the community, to improving facilities for the city’s young gymnasts and protecting Stoke-on-Trent’s only Grade I-listed building.
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of the city council, said: “It’s fantastic to see another project that will benefit so many of our residents coming to life through the Community Investment Fund. Whenever I’ve been to the park there has always been someone playing football on the pitch, and I’m sure they’ll be delighted with this new, modern surface that is being installed. These pitches can be expensive to hire, so we’re really pleased to be supporting one that is going to be free to use for the general public. I’ve personally visited many of the projects that have benefited from our Community Investment Fund and seen the impact the fund has had first hand. It’s great to know the fund is going to have lasting, long-term benefits for people, groups and communities for years to come.”