Wintry weather delays work on football pitch at Open Academy in Norwich

Work starts on FDC @ Open Academy, a new floodlit third generation artificial grass pitch

Work starts on FDC @ Open Academy, a new floodlit third generation artificial grass pitch - Credit: Archant

Work to create a new all-weather football pitch will run into extra time, Norfolk FA has revealed.

The flood-lit, third generation artificial grass pitch at Open Academy in Heartsease was due to be completed next month, but winter weather has halted its construction.

It is understood that conditions are too wet to complete the groundworks to the required standard, and there is around six weeks worth of work remaining when contractors are back on site.

The football development centre, which will be known as the FDC @ Open Academy, was made possible thanks to a grant of almost £500,000 from the Premier League and Football Association Facilities Fund.

In a statement, Norfolk FA said: 'The continued inclement weather we have been experiencing has led to the unfortunate news that the contractors who have been working on the FDC @ Open Academy pitch have taken the difficult decision to go off-site until there is a better chance of more favourable conditions.

'In the short term this will mean that the pitch will be delayed for the foreseeable future, but will still be open in time to service the local football community from the start of the 2016-17 season.

'In the interim period we will be liaising with all those who have enquired about using the facility to finalise plans ahead of the site becoming operational.'

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Gavin Lemmon, development manager for Norfolk FA, said that three sides of the fencing were up at the site, and two thirds of the initial ground work was done.

But a third of the pitch has no drainage yet, and it is too wet to do the work

Mr Lemmon said it was frustrating, but it was the right decision to wait.

'It's all about the quality of pitch,' he said. 'What we get at the end is the best pitch it can be.

'While the contractors can cover it and it would dry out, it's a quality thing.

'This just makes sure we get a pitch that's going to last.'

The next review of ground conditions is expected in mid February, with the facility to be completed before the start of the next football season.

When it opens, FDC @ Open Academy will be used by the school during the day, and by the local community during the evenings and weekends.

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