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£225,000 Olympic Legacy boost for South West sports playing fields

Devon villagers who will no longer need to make a 16-mile round trip to play football are among thousands of South West residents benefiting from a £225,000 Olympic legacy windfall from Sport England.
Five projects in the region are receiving the National Lottery funding in the latest round of Sport England's Protecting Playing Fields fund to bring disused playing fields back into use, improve existing sites or create new sports pitches. Protecting Playing Fields is part of the Places People Play legacy programme to bring the inspiration and magic of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games into communities all over the country.

Sport England's Chair, Richard Lewis, said: "These investments will transform the local pitches where many young people have their first experience of sport. With all of these playing fields safe from development for at least a generation, communities across the South West can look forward to years of sporting enjoyment.

Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, said: "Protecting and improving playing fields, under Sport England's Protecting Playing Fields fund, is a key part of our 2012 legacy plans. This will enable more people to have more opportunity to play sport, leaving a genuine legacy from hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The funding offers in the South West region are:

  • £50,000 to enable a Devon football team to play its first ever home game. Princetown Football Club bid for the investment to create a new home ground, with junior and senior pitches, for players who currently have to make a 16-mile round trip to Tavistock to play. Club secretary Anna Homden said: "We currently have no sports facilities and in a very rural and deprived area that's made it incredibly hard for people to get involved in sport. Having our own pitch will help our young residents to take up sport and will honestly change lives. It's a dream come true. We can't thank Sport England and the lottery enough."
  • £50,000 to create new pitches at Calne Town's Beversbrook Sports and Community Facility. Two new senior pitches, one youth and one mini soccer pitch will enable the facility to offer a home to 20 new football teams and hundreds of sports enthusiasts.
  • £42,000 to completely renovate the wicket at a north Somerset cricket club that was set up in 1888. A bumpy, uneven wicket has been holding back plans to expand the membership and fixtures at the Blagdon Cricket Club - the only sports facility in the village.
  • £50,000 to improve the playing fields at Katherine Lady Berkeley's Acadamy in Stroud. Better drainage will make cancelled matches due to water-logging a thing of the past as part of the school's ambitious plans to improve the sports facilities open to both school children and the local community.
  • £35,680 to help Whiteparish Memorial Ground Trust create a new top-quality wicket for its pitch in the village of Whiteparish in Wiltshire. Moving and reorientating the club's current, worn cricket square is part of the charity's plans to create thriving community and multi-sports activities in the village.

All successful playing fields will also be protected from developers for at least 25 years , creating an enduring benefit for sport. And two are set to become Queen Elizabeth II Fields after agreeing to dedicate their playing field in "perpetuity".  This is thanks to a partnership with Fields in Trust (FIT) which is running the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge as part of the programme to mark the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Alison Moore-Gwyn, Chief Executive of Fields in Trust said: "This fantastic investment into grassroots facilities in England will help to ensure that neighbourhoods can participate in sporting activities at all levels for years to come. We are delighted to see that some of these playing fields will also be protected in perpetuity as part of the permanent legacy that the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge will create in tribute to the Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Games."

Hundreds more playing fields are set to benefit from a further £6 million over the three remaining rounds of Protecting Playing Fields. The third round will open for bids in early summer.

Protecting Playing Fields builds on the work Sport England already does to safeguard playing fields as a statutory consultee on all planning applications affecting a sports playing field.