August hope for new �51k Ottery sports facility

A NEW �51,000 community sports facility for Ottery could be up and running in August.

A NEW �51,000 community sports facility for Ottery could be up and running in August.

Civic leaders are set for crucial talks over who can use a piece of once overgrown land in Strawberry Lane as a nine-month transformation bid nears completion.

A top international croquet coach has set his sights on making the area a hub for the sport in East Devon, and local clubs and organisations interested in the facility have been invited to put their cases forward.

Work to a �45,000 access road finished �6,000 over budget after contractors uncovered a clay-filled "hole in the ground" when digging its foundations.

Experts tasked with the cultivation and re-seeding of the site's newly drained and levelled field area are praying for an element of British summer that has been conspicuously missing this week- rain.

Town council agricultural advisor, Councillor George Hansford, said: "We've used a special seed treated in a secret product that grows far more rapidly than ordinary grass- it just needs water now."

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Mayor Glyn Dobson revealed he hopes the land can be used in August. Ottery town council will first discuss who can use the site at its full meeting on June 7.

The new facility will boast around 30 car-parking spaces including disabled spots and cyclist slots.

Scores of organisations last year lodged an interest in using the facility- though hopes for a band-stand and orchard have been dashed as the land can only be used for sport.

Cllr Dobson said the facility could host croquet, petanque and archery, but questions remain over activities like football.

"When completed this will be a tremendous facility for the parish that will be owned by the parish," said the mayor.

"We want it to host a range of things. We've done it for the town. Any sports clubs who think they might be able to use facility can contact the town council.

"It's not finished, we've still got lots to do.

"The council has always realised this was a project that would take a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve. We have made considerable progress this year."

Mr Dobson thanked deputy mayor Cllr Ian Holmes and Cllr Hansford for their time and efforts, adding: "Without these two guys we would never have got this done."

A covenant on the land restricts its use to sport. Former owner Nick Cave last year relaxed the restriction, which initially limited use to bowls or croquet, so sporting activities deemed to benefit the town can take place there.

Devon County Council used cash generated from the sale of Exeter Airport to land �45,000 for the project. An extra �6,000 was spent from the town council's purse.