Consultation on outdoor sporting facilities in Chester-le-Street
Have your say on outdoor sporting facilities proposals in Chester-le-Street.
Chester-le-Street has some excellent leisure facilities including outdoor sports facilities. There are several outdoor sports sites across the town but the facilities at Roseberry and the Riverside are key locations for many teams and sport users.
Although both facilities generate an income, their costs are also subsidised by the council. Due to the current financial climate and budget pressures facing the council, it is important that any plans for both sites have robust business cases and are sustainable in the long term while still continuing to meet the needs of the community.
As part of ensuring the right mix of facilities are available, the council has been considering how best these two strategically important locations can continue to meet the needs of communities. Through 2019, and up until late 2021, the council developed its playing pitch strategy, which was reported to the County Council's Cabinet and adopted in November 2021. The playing pitch strategy involved consultation with sport governing bodies and local sports clubs to ensure the council had a plan for managing current and future outdoor spaces and provision of pitches and playing fields. A playing pitch strategy is an important part of the evidence base on which the council makes planning decisions, and the process works alongside guidance from Sport England. The current grass and synthetic pitches at both the Riverside and Roseberry sites are important as part of the overall pitch provision across the county. The playing pitch strategy makes various observations and recommendations about provision of pitches and for the wider North Planning Area, of which Chester-le-Street represents a significant part, an outcome of the strategy is acknowledgment that the area has an under-supply of two full size synthetic football pitches to support demand.
In January 2020, the council also approved a leisure transformation programme to explore the best ways to invest in its leisure facilities across the county. A non-site specific consultation took place countywide in December 2020 to seek views on what activities residents would like to see across the county, including both indoor and outdoor facilities. From this initial consultation, site specific proposals for the Riverside were developed with stakeholders. These plans were then shared as part of a leisure conversation which took place during the summer of 2022. See our Leisure transformation consultation page for more information about the leisure transformation project.
How the sites currently operate
The playing fields at the Roseberry site are needed to support demand and are an important part of our playing pitch calculations for the area. In 2018, Football Foundation funding and contributions from the council and local members supported the development of facilities at Roseberry. They now include a new changing pavilion and small synthetic football pitch. Hilda Park Football Club currently operate the site on a day to day basis on behalf of the council, this was a condition of the funding from the Football Foundation. They make extensive use of the pitches and are getting more people involved in football and supporting community access for others to use the facilities on the site. With the management arrangements with Hilda Park FC, we have been able to maintain access and use of the facilities at Roseberry in a sustainable way without considerable public subsidy.
The Riverside currently includes a main pavilion, a range of grass football pitches, a single full size artificial pitch, indoor cricket nets and athletics track and associated facilities. The site is home to a number of different clubs and sports organisations from across Chester-le-Street and the wider area. Although the site is reasonably well-used, it was identified during earlier development plans that the site needed a considerable annual subsidy from the council to operate. In the past, there has been interest from several different third parties keen to take over operation of the site. However, the option to keep the site managed by the council was preferred, subject to transformation proposals and development of a more sustainable business plan. It was felt that the council was best placed to manage the various needs and uses of the site by the different organisations who call the Riverside their home.
What we are proposing
Although lots of development work and community consultation has already taken place, it is important that any proposed developments have a strong business case and income generation plans to ensure sustainability of the services and minimal council subsidy.
We are asking for further views on the use of the outdoor sports facilities at the two sites in Chester-le-Street. These are both important sites for consideration of pitch provision and contribute as part of the council's playing pitch strategy. The council will need to ensure that any proposals deliver value for money and a sustainable financial position alongside community benefits.
Have your say
The closing date for comments is 5.00pm on Wednesday 11 January 2023.
To see the revised proposals for Riverside and to share your feedback go to Consultation on updated proposals for Riverside Leisure Complex facilities.
What happens next
We will consider all of the comments from the consultation and once the plans have been finalised, we will share these with you.
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