Saints’ move into new ground remains on hold

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Work is continuing on the new artificial pitch at Bobby Hancocks Park.

FOOTBALL

SOUTHAM United’s move into their new £3million stadium at Bobby Hancocks Park remains on hold, as work is likely to continue for some months to come, writes David Hucker.

After a three-year break, the men’s first team has already kicked off the new campaign in Hellenic League Division Two North, winning all three league and cup matches.

However, with work expected to continue until mid-December, it looks like they will complete the first half of the season playing all their fixtures away from home.

First mooted back in 1995, it took four years before plans could be worked up and an option agreement signed with Bloor Homes to redevelop the old ground in Banbury Road for housing and provide Saints with a new facility close by.

Another five years passed before planning permission was granted in August 2014, subject to negotiation of various agreements with Bloor Homes, the adjoining landowner and Stratford District Council.

The new facilities were handed over 11 months ago, but a delay in fitting out the first floor of the community hub and installing the 3G pitch meant that it wasn’t fully operational for the start of the season.

In a statement issued last week, chairman Charles Hill confirmed that a start on the pitch is imminent, with completion scheduled for early/mid-December.

The first floor fit-out is on track for work to begin in the last week of October or first week of November, with completion expected at Christmas.

This work also includes 45 more dedicated parking spaces and the remodelling of the entrance off Lark Road.

Looking further ahead, the club is to submit another planning application for replacement junior pitches further south along Banbury Road, which would be linked to the main ground by footpath and cycle path, the construction of an indoor 3G and futsal facility, as well as a multi-use games area.

The existing junior pitches, which will remain in use until the new ones are completed, will provide the land for a further 100 new homes.

“No-one wants the new facilities completed and fully operational more than I do,” said Hill.

“Myself and senior colleagues are determined to do everything within our control to make this happen.”

Saints play their next away match at Easington Sports Development on Saturday.