£1.4m sports pavilion on way for town

Foxhunters Playing Fields, Whitley Bay-Council have drawn up plans to build a pavilion on the site.
Foxhunters Playing Fields, Whitley Bay-Council have drawn up plans to build a pavilion on the site.

A £1.4M sports pavilion looks set to be built on open fields on the edge of Whitley Bay.

Cabinet members at North Tyneside Council have approved initial proposals for the new sports complex, on the Foxhunters Playing Fields, but a final decision has yet to be made by the full council.

The move follows the success of new sports developments built at the Rising Sun sports ground in Benton, Lockey Park in Wideopen, Collingwood Field in North Shields and, most recently, East Palmersville in Benton.

The Foxhunters Playing Fields site has been identified as the best site for the new facilities it is the borough’s biggest grassed area set aside for sport.

Previous changing facilities there were demolished in 2005, and teams currently have to use metal cabins to get changed in.

Whitley Bay Football Club and the Football Foundation have agreed to split the £1.4m bill for the pavilion, if it is given the thumbs-up.

The local authority would contribute £1m, with the football club contributing £50,000 and the foundation providing a £350,000 grant.

The Seahorses plan to use the site as their new home and as a centre for developing home-grown talent to play in their three senior and 23 junior teams.

The proposed new facilities include six changing rooms for players, officials’ changing rooms, a first aid room, community room, kitchen, office, meeting rooms, toilets and storage space.

Externally, there would be a large all-weather pitch and a newly-drained grass pitch with a spectator rail around it.

Club chairman Paul McIlduff said: “We’re very grateful for the support the club has received from the council over the years, particularly during our record-breaking three visits to Wembley.

“The club has also had the great honour of being given the freedom of the borough.

“This decision brings the club another step closer to getting these much-needed facilities, which are vital in helping to maintain, develop and enhance our role in the North Tyneside community.

“But it wouldn’t be just Whitley Bay FC that benefits. These new sport facilities, which include a community hall, would be accessed by other clubs and community groups too.”

Borough mayor Linda Arkley said: “This sports pavilion would be a fantastic boost for Whitley Bay FC, a club that’s given this borough so much to be proud of.

“It would mean dozens of young players are no longer forced to use unsuitable and uncomfortable changing facilities.

“It would also be of great benefit to the wider public too as it would provide flexible space for youth and community activities.”

Planning permission for the scheme was granted in January, and it has now been given cabinet approval, meaning it is just one decision away from becoming a reality.