March Town Council pledges to dig even deeper to ensure Estover gets ‘first class sports hub’ now historic lease is agreed

March Town Council Annual Assembly. Picture: Steve Williams.

March Town Council Annual Assembly. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

March Town Council has pledged to make up any shortfall in funding to ensure Estover playing fields gets “a first class sports hub”.

The council has already put up £100,000 alongside a further £100,000 from Fenland District Council.

But the offer of further funding- if required- came at Monday’s town council meeting when details of a new lease were unveiled.

Town clerk Clive Lemmon said the negotiations had created a lease that contained “everything we always hoped for and slightly more”.

He reported that the council had met a tight deadline to ensure the lease was in place before the end of the council year.

Talks will now take place with the Football Association and with Sport England to bring in additional funds.

He won support from councillors for opting to allow the council to borrow extra funds – by way of a lump sum or via a mortgage- to ensure Estover got the right facilities.

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Councillors had talked with him and the “the mood was being mooted that the town council commit to provide any shortfall of funding to achieve the desired level of sports facilities for a first class sports hub on that site”.

Outgoing town councillor Mike Cornwell thought a cap should be placed on further borrowing but was assured by colleagues that any additional spending would first have to be approved by the new council.

The signing of the heads of agreement between landowners Cambridgeshire County Council and the town council and means work can now start on creating a community sports hub. The long-lease means the playing field can now benefit from grant funding, previously denied because of uncertainty over its future.

A “Community Interest Company” is being established (Estover Playing Field 2015 CIC) to hold the lease and manage the future development of the site into a community multi-sports hub facility with public access for recreation.

Cllr Owen said: “This is a very exciting time for March and the public will be fully consulted to ensure that any proposed development aims to meet the wishes of all the various sports clubs.”

Councillor Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “I am absolutely delighted I have been able to sign off the county council on this. With this lease the people of March have finally got the land needed to deliver a sports hub, both desperately needed and long overdue for our community.”