A council-owned artificial sports pitch which was condemned in 2019 could finally be replaced – but it might not be ready until 2024.
The synthetic surface at Kettering Leisure Village, in Thurston Drive, has been out of action for three years with areas of the pitch torn, lifted or even replaced with rubber chippings.
North Northamptonshire Council (NNC), who own the site, are now working on a project to attract investment for a new pitch after it suffered from vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
But they’ve admitted it won’t be open to the public until late next year at the earliest – and one councillor fears it may be 2024 before it is available.
Cllr Anup Pandey (Con, Northall) said: "This is much-needed and it needs to be done as soon as possible.”
Kettering DJ Rhys Alford, who grew up on the estate and spent countless hours there having kickabouts, ran a fundraiser last year to replace the goals on the pitch in a bid to help keep kids out of trouble.
He eventually raised about £1,100 – but says he was told he would be liable for any injuries if new goals were put up.
He said: "It’s just a shame really because it’s such a nice area and community facility and it’s been let down.”
It’s understood that nobody will provide insurance on the current pitch and that the overall project to replace it could cost about £300,000.
An application for funding for the new pitch is being developed over the next few months.
Rhys said a potential 2024 date for a new playing surface is not good enough, adding that discussions with NNC about where goals could be erected using the cash he raised have so far come to nothing.
He said: “It’s just a bit of an embarrassment.”
Bookings for the site and other sports facilities across the Kettering district are outsourced by NNC to Legacy Leisure.
A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “The council’s aspiration is to see this pitch back in use as soon as is practicable and the council’s leisure services team are working on a project to attract investment from the Football Foundation to see a new playing surface installed.
“The Football Foundation’s funding criteria requires an element of match funding from the council for the project and conversations are under way to understand what the overall costs might be.
“Despite it being a managed facility and accessed via paid bookings only, the site was periodically subject to unauthorised use, vandalism and anti-social behaviour which contributed to damage to the playing surfaces.
“Following a pitch surface safety test carried out in 2019, the pitch was condemned due to the playing surface not meeting the necessary safety standards so has been out of use since this date.
“This was mainly due to the age of the playing surface and areas being damaged and uneven.
“Though the council would want the pitch available as soon as possible unfortunately, due to the considerable size of the works required, this will not be until late next year at the earliest.”