Hopes raised that condemned Kettering artificial pitch will finally get funding for new surface

Council chiefs are planning to lease the facility to the Northamptonshire Football Association
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Council bosses are set to work with county football chiefs in a bid to finally replace the surface of a condemned Kettering artificial pitch.

The 3G facility in Thurston Drive is in a shocking state, with areas torn or replaced with rubber chippings, and it has been out-of-action since 2019 because it doesn’t meet safety standards.

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Last year we reported that there were plans for a new surface with Conservative-run North Northamptonshire Council (NNC), which owns the facility, hoping to attract investment.

Parts of the uneven surface have torn and lifted up.Parts of the uneven surface have torn and lifted up.
Parts of the uneven surface have torn and lifted up.

And now NNC has revealed it is planning to lease it to the Northamptonshire Football Association (NFA) for 30 years, with both organisations putting a bid in to the Football Foundation for the necessary funding to bring the improvements forward.

Kettering DJ Rhys Alford, who grew up on the Kettering Leisure Village estate and spent countless hours there having kickabouts, said: "It’s promising and it’s nice to see the council being proactive about it.

"The response from the community when I was fundraising for new goals, and the response when everyone was trying to save the leisure centre, shows how loved the site is.

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"The whole area is so important to everyone and we all want to see better facilities.”

Rhys Alford spent his childhood having kickabouts on the KLV pitchRhys Alford spent his childhood having kickabouts on the KLV pitch
Rhys Alford spent his childhood having kickabouts on the KLV pitch

The pitch was built in 1991 and the surface has passed its life expectancy. It has recently been subjected to vandalism, causing further damage.

NNC’s ruling executive committee will discuss a proposal on Thursday (September 14) to lease it, as well as the pavilion and athletics track, to the NFA to bring investment to the site.

The arrangement would see a variation in the current contract with Freedom Leisure to remove the facilities and the lease from their existing arrangement to allow the development to progress.

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It would include a contractual agreement for continued use for the Kettering Town Harriers athletics club and ongoing support for continued development of the athletics facilities at the site.

When the artificial pitch could finally be available for public use again is not known.

Cllr Helen Howell (Con), NNC’s deputy leader and executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism, said: “This is a wonderful facility on the outskirts of Kettering and it’s very sad that it has fallen into an unusable state in the past decade so it cannot be used by the community.

“The development of the relationship with the NFA is a great opportunity to attract the necessary funding to make these improvements and bring the facilities back into use by local residents.”

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Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of the council, said: “The popularity of football and athletics is such that there is enormous demand for this type of facility and it’s a real shame that it has been out of use for so long.

“Sport and exercise in general have tremendous benefits for people’s health and wellbeing so it’s important that they have the facilities so they can be active.

“I’m delighted that a plan has been formulated to bring it back into use. It will be wonderful when it can finally reopen.”