NEW plans to build a sports centre for community groups, children and athletes adjacent to the rugby club in St Peter have been submitted.
A previously approved application to construct the facility, called the Jersey Sports Academy, was first lodged in 2016 but the proposals have since been amended and now include an additional floor.
According to a design statement lodged by Team Athlete, the building would focus on ‘community and children’s sports performance’ with 2,500sq-metres of indoor area and an additional 1,100sq-metres of outdoor facilities. It would also be used to deliver elite-level coaching and as an additional training facility for the adjacent rugby club.
The site is currently used as an overspill parking area for Jersey Reds fans on match days and, if plans are approved, 184 parking spaces – with 40 allocated to the facility – could also be built on the site.
It is also due to include, among other features, treatment rooms, space for two altitude-training rooms, three studios and a gym dedicated to paying members.
A previous application stated that 40% of the floor space would be dedicated to schools and community groups. Through the addition of outdoor space, this has now been upgraded to 60%.
According to a planning statement accompanying the application, the proposed facility would give all children in the Island the opportunity to ‘get involved with sport and improve their physiological and sporting abilities’. It adds that the field is not suited for rugby matches or training sessions.
‘Since its acquisition, the field has never been considered as suitably good quality for training or playing,’ it said.
‘Compared with other pitches the use of this field has been very low. A well-used field is used up to five times a week, ten months of the year. Field 790 never had more than five games played on it over a year or any training for rugby.
‘It is prone to frequent flooding and there have been other problems.’
The planning statement, which has been lodged by former Jersey Reds coach Ben Harvey on behalf of Team Athlete, also says that the new facility would be open from 6am until 9pm with a maximum of 12 1.5-hour sessions open to the rugby club and a minimum of 13 available to school groups each day.
During the evenings, it says that there would be 15 1.5-hour sessions open to children’s and sports groups per week. It is expected that children and community groups would meet 10% of the running costs with private members and sponsorship contributing the remainder.
‘The development proposed confirms the opportunity to create a unique facility in the Island that delivers to all children in the Island, the JRFC, sports clubs and associations and the wider community,’ the planning statement said.
‘The applicant brings together a set of circumstances that enable the facility to be delivered at no cost to the States of Jersey but which will help the States deliver strategic sporting health and economic objectives.’
It adds: ‘...It has already been accepted that exceptional circumstances have been provided to enable the minister to support a decision to allow the construction of a sports training building and creation of permanent parking on Field 790 [green zone].’
The previous application was approved by the States Planning Committee in August 2016. At the time, they said they would take a ‘leap of faith’ on the proposals.
This was despite opposition from the Planning Department, who recommended refusal, after saying that there was no guarantee schools or community groups would use the centre and that it would probably primarily become a private members’ gym.