Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester FC Community Trust have been awarded a grant of £1,068,589 from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation to create a new 3G pitch and pavilion in Blacon.
This brings the total investment at Blacon Playing Fields to £1.8 million for a full-size floodlit artificial grass pitch and a new multi-use community building with changing rooms, kitchen, office and training room, along with a 104-space car park and improved access, creating a community sports hub across the wider site.
The hub will become the new base for Chester FC Community Trust and provide state-of-the-art sport and community facilities for grassroots clubs and leagues, sports groups and local organisations.
The Council and Chester FC Community Trust worked with the Football Foundation and Cheshire FA to secure the £1m grant towards the scheme. Planning permission was granted in December and partnership funding from the Council, Westminster Foundation, Avenue Services, Ursula Keyes Trust and Chester FC Community Trust means work can now start. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
Plans are also proposed to improve the existing facilities at King George V Playing Fields with new drainage for the grass pitches and refurbishment of the derelict pavilion.
Gemma Davies, Director of Housing and Economy at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “What a fantastic investment this is for the area. Sport is essential for improving health, not only physical but mental health as well. The new facilities will greatly improve the leisure opportunities in Blacon and for the surrounding area.
“The grant will enable both junior and open age football teams to benefit from the new facilities and increase playing opportunities for women and girls, people with disabilities and older people.”
Chester FC Community Trust will establish a new post-16 education centre at the hub and the pitch will be available for local schools to use during the day.
Jim Green, CEO of Chester FC Community Trust, said: “The grant of £1m from the Football Foundation is huge for local football and will enable us to bring our vision of a thriving hub for community sport to life.
“This is a really significant investment in Blacon and Chester that will deliver much needed facilities that will increase participation in sport, create new education and employability opportunities and improve health and wellbeing for many years.
“This is a very exciting moment for us, and it would not have been possible without the support and belief from our partners, stakeholders and community, for which we are incredibly grateful.”
The Football Foundation is the UK’s largest sports charity and exists to improve the experience of playing football for everyone, by championing fair access to quality facilities.
Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This grant award to Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester FC Community Trust towards developing a new state-of-the-art sports hub is great news for the local community.
“It will support people’s ability to play our national game locally and therefore help unlock football’s many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country. It’s therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will help Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester FC Community Trust to improve access to high-quality football facilities for local clubs and provide new sport and education opportunities for all ages.
“The Football Foundation is working closely with our partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England – support facility development projects like this across the country over the next decade to transform our grassroots game and unlock the power of pitches.”