Phase 1: "Dog Park" Mini / Training Pitch
The first and most obvious area identified by the LBSA for development of a new facility was at the south side of the Park behind the hedge. This would allow for a meaningful sized pitch for training for all, and a mini playing field for both rugby and football clubs in order to meet the remit of taking some strain of use away from the main field at the park. See an aerial image below.
During research it became apparent that the area of land has become the subject of complaints from the public to the community council with regard to the continual dog fouling issues; dog walkers have been taking advantage of the land being remote and out of sight and not picking up their mess. This has since become known as the Dog Park, hence the title of the drive to seek funding and a lease from the community council to utilise the wasted land.
Added to this, there has long been a conflict between the cricket and rugby and football mini teams using the cricket outfield to stage matches during winter months. The community council stepped in as mediator issuing letters to both rugby and football clubs in 2017 requesting them to refrain from using the cricket outfield for mini games and training.
A development at the non-utilised Dog Park would therefore benefit as follows:
Dog walkers would be deterred from using the area for fouling
Eliminate the possibility of outfield usage for the Cricket Club
Help meet the demands required to prevent over usage of the main field by public, rugby and football clubs
On June 4th 2018, a meeting was had with the grants officers of Sport Wales (Ceri Richards), Welsh Rugby Union (Chris Munro) and Football Association of Wales (Kevin Moon and Aled Lewis) with regard to the potential for new facilities at the Park. They deemed the Dog Park area as the main space that would qualify for grant funding due to the following reasons:
Seen as a relatively simple and cheap operation to make a grass pitch with mobile flood lighting (subject to the surveyors report on drainage and soil quality)
All 3 grants bodies would potentially be able to give maximum funding upon submission of a successful application, since the project benefits numerous sports clubs
Quick turnaround compared with planning requirements for development of similar facility closer to residential site
On the back of this visit, Chris Munro suggested that the WRU contracted ground surveyor Alan Lewis would visit to make an assessment of the potential of the area, to include a soil sample survey. He will then provide a full report and design plan for the LBSA to issue in order to present to the community council for an initial lease on the land prior to submitting the relevant application to the funding bodies to attain the grants to go ahead with the project.
Alan Lewis visited the site to carry out his assessment on October 23rd 2018.
The findings of the initial report (received on 13th December 2018) are very positive and steps are now underway to work alongside the relevant authorities and funding bodies to move the project forward.
In March 2019, the Rugby Club's ongoing development plan for a training and junior-sized playing facility at the school ground (whereby they have exclusive rights of use over a 10-year agreement) required funding from the WRU pot, which directly impacted on funding for the Dog Park vision. Reducing the potential share of WRU funding for the project, a floodlit facility seems less likely in the short term. Temporary floodlight cost accounts for around 60% of the overall costs of the project. A non-floodlit facility would not be of use during week nights in winter months, therefore weakening the case of usage for the LBSA's grant funding application; the grant officers have advised that they would find it difficult to justify such funding without significant use.
Despite this, the project possibilities and funding for a reduced usage (non-floodlit) option will continue to be pursued.
By August 2019, new portable floodlighting systems had become available to buy at a much reduced cost - as purchased by the Rugby Club for the school facility. This rekindled the possibility of realising the Dog Park project as funds were once again potentially achievable without the need for WRU pot.
Further to this, the LBSA continued to liaise with the FAW Trust officer and on 20th December 2019, confirmation was received that the panel had agreed a Fund in Principle of £8k for the development. Conditions attached were as follows:
a) Three quotations from floodlight suppliers.
b) Confirmation of a minimum ground tenure of 10 years.
c) sufficient reassurance on how the asset would be protected.
d) confirmation and evidence of partnership funding.
2019 ended with the LBSA in pursuit of satisfying the above conditions in order to get the launch of the project secured!