Aylsham residents urged to get behind sports project and help kick start fundraising

A rallying call has been made to Aylsham residents to get behind plans for a major sports development as campaigners launch a fundraising drive to see the �1m project through to completion.

Planning permission has finally been given for 10 football pitches – four of which will be floodlit – a new pavilion and a 119-space car park to be built on land off Cawston Road, as part of a scheme that will also see 250 homes built on the site.

And sporting campaigners are urging the community to show their support for the project as they now have to raise �500,000 of match funding to ensure it is completed.

The plans suffered delays when rival developers tried to get them overturned ,but after Broadland District Council gave them the final nod of approval last month, it allowed work to begin in earnest.

The sports ground will become home to Aylsham Football Club, which desperately needs space as it continues to grow, host St Giles Cricket Club and could become a centre of excellence for coaching.

But it is planned to cater for more than just sport as talks are also being held with the local Scout groups and the pavilion will be available for private hire.

As part of the planning permission developer Youngs Farms is donating �500,000 to kickstart the project and fundraising is now being planned to bring in the rest of the cash that will see it home.

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Ian Potter, Aylsham FC chairman, said he was 'really pleased' the plans had been given the green light but despite the celebrations the hard work was just beginning.

'We have created a number of events to raise money but also to raise the profile of what we're doing for the community. Ultimately we can only do this with the support of the people who are part of the club, part of the cricket club and people in the community,' he added. 'If we don't raise the money we'll

miss the opportunity.'

A trust is now being established, which will be responsible for the gifted cash, and once up and running members will also start to apply for grants to boost the project's coffers.

The money is expected to be handed over by the summer and construction work started as soon as possible, with the sports ground ready for play by 2014. Building work on the homes is anticipated to begin next year and take around 50 months to complete through four phases.

Aylsham FC has been working for four years with the Norfolk Football Association to source extra pitches for its 17 teams as the facilities it currently uses - spread over two sites at the town 'rec' and high school - have 'stifled its growth'.

Gavin Lemmon, development manager at Norfolk FA, added to Mr Potter's call for the community to get behind the scheme.

He said: 'With planning permission now in place it's really been the impetus the club needed to be able to rally their members. But it's not the case they're going to get this all through grant aid, they're going to have to do traditional fundraising.

'The facility is for the community and the community needs to demonstrate they want the project to be a success.'

The club already has several fundraising events planned, including a match between Aylsham and a team of Norwich City all stars later this month, but Mr Potter said campaigners were 'desperate' for more people to help with the fundraising drive.

He added: 'We'd absolutely love to hear from people if they think they can help, however big or small.'

? To get involved with the scheme contact Mr Potter via www.aylshamfc.co.uk

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