Pinebanks developer’s proposed ‘sports hub’ is welcomed by headteacher of Thorpe St Andrew School

Plans for the new 'Thorpe St Andrew Sports Hub Concept' proposed by developers of the area's derelict Pinebanks site have been welcomed by the local high school's headteacher.

Long-awaited plans for 215 houses at the Pinebanks site, off Harvey Lane, and 52 houses at a second site at Griffin Lane have been revealed this week.

Campaigners, councillors and local residents have been eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the plans because the developers Ocubis - appointed by the owner of the two sites, Berliet - were warned that community sporting facilities needed to be included.

This is because the formerly Norwich Union-owned Pinebanks site was home to many clubs for sports such as football, hockey, badminton and squash.

As the detailed plans continue to be absorbed and assessed – an exhibition at the Dussindale Centre, off Pound Lane, closed yesterday – reaction is beginning to emerge from a number of different sources.

Part of the early plans for the sports hub include the potential of working with Thorpe St Andrew School to improve existing facilities for the communities.

The school's headteacher, Ian Clayton, has praised the 'common sense' concept and said he is looking forward to exploring the proposals with Ocubis.

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These include fulfilling an existing planning permission for a new sports hall at the school and bringing two unused football pitches owned by the school back into use.

At the moment neither of these options are active as the school does not need them but Mr Clayton said he would be pleased to see those plans come to fruition.

He said: 'I'm very pleased that the options with the school site are real possibilities. It would make a lot of sense as we already have the infrastructure here to take on more community facilities.

'If this were to go ahead then there would be a range of options but we would be looking at �1.4m to �1.7m for a four-court sports hall and if that includes the studio facilities as well then about �3m.

'So the developer would not only be making a contribution to that but also helping us to attract the right funding from governing bodies to bring the new facilities to the community of Thorpe St Andrew.'

A skatepark, five-a-side football pitches and a community building which could host 35 to 40 people for exercise classes, such as Zumba, are all part of three different options being proposed for the Griffin lane site at the exhibitions.

Mike Riches, from Henby Way, has been campaigning to ensure adequate sports facilities are brought back to the area by developers, and he is not yet convinced the current Ocubis plans will do that.

He said: 'It still appears to make much more sense to have a central sports, recreation and leisure facility, self funded and managed similar to the UEA Sports Park model, and Pinebanks is still an ideal location for this.

'Once this lovely open green space is lost, it will be lost forever.'

- What do you think of the Pinebanks and Griffin lane plans? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email