A Horsham sports club has begun work on a new £100,000 project which will create the town’s first all weather 3G pitches.
The Holbrook Club, in North Heath Lane, started work earlier this week on two new 3G pitches which are set to open later this year.
The project is estimated to be costing the sports and social club more than £100,000 and will see the front tennis court turned into two five-a-side football pitches as well as a new floodlighting system being installed.
Paul Felgate, club manager at The Holbrook Club, said the works were very positive not only for the club but for the town.
He said: “It is very exciting everybody is buzzing about it.
“I think this is the biggest thing that has happened to the club since it converted from the old Sun Alliance. It is also big news for the town as these are the first 3G pitches in Horsham, the next closest I believe are in Crawley or Burgess Hill.”
Paul has spent the last year trying to get funding for the build and working with planners to get the project underway.
Despite the hefty price of the development and the time it has taken for it to come about he said the benefits to the club and its members will be far greater than its cost.
“It is a fairly big investment but it will be worth it,” he said.
“We have 2,000 members and of these 2,000 only about 30 people use the tennis court.
“We already have an awful lot of football and we are getting an awful lot more demand for more football. We have had a lot of interest from people wanting to book the court already.”
The club is currently used by many sports teams around the town including Chesworth Rovers FC and Roffey Robbins. But it is not just the football clubs who will be using these new facilities.
“Our rugby club have said they will train on the new surface,” Paul added. “We have also had interest from corporate clients as well.
“We have been pleasantly surprised with the feedback we have had. Chewsworth Rovers and Roffey Athletic are interested in using the courts and we have had a good response from Horsham Sparrows.”
The ground works for the new build started on Monday with fences around the old tennis court being pulled down.
Paul has estimated the pitch will be laid within the next three weeks with the floodlights put in afterwards.
“The plan is to open the pitch in early March,” Paul said.
“I hope we can open it in Feburary but depending on weather conditions we can’t promise anything.”
The news of the build comes a week after the decision by Horsham District Council to refuse plans for a new football ground for Horsham FC, which included the creation of two new 3G football pitches.
The proposal would have also seen some of the current pitches at the Holbrook Club sold off to create 57 new houses. Paul said the application had given the club even more reason to go ahead with the development but regardless of the decision they were always planning on going ahead with the build.
He said: “We were going to go ahead with the pitches even if Horsham FC’s proposal were accepted. We have always felt this was a good investment for the club. The pitches can bring in more than 20 grand a year.
“If the proposals had gone through we would have lost one of the full size football pitches and the cricket field so we looked at what we could do to keep providing these facilitates.
“We have up to four or five junior games on a Saturday morning but we would not be able to continue that if we had lost the pitches. My cafe would also have taken a hit.
“The Holbrook Club has been here for 50 years and we would like to be here for another 50 years, these new courts can help that happen.”
In the wake of the council’s decision to turn down Horsham FC’s plans for a new stadium at Hop Oast, the directors of the Holbrook Club said in a statement this week: “How Horsham FC will respond is unclear, but whether they eventually get permission or not will have a limited impact on the future of The Holbrook Club.
“We are a thriving, independent ‘non-for-profit’ community club, with over 2,000 members, providing sports and social facilities for the benefit of Holbrook and Horsham residents. Our only relationship with HFC is that of landlord and tenant.
“Recent reports, in some local press, have incorrectly suggested that the future of The Holbrook Club is in doubt.
“Members can rest assured that The Holbrook Club has a strong tenancy position at the ground and it will be businesses as usual for the foreseeable future.
“The investment in two new floodlit pitches, featuring a top-class 3G artificial grass playing surface, demonstrates our long term commitment to developing a full range of facilities for our members and their guest to enjoy.
Football ground search steps up: page 22