Broadbridge Heath's frustrating ‘never ending story’ for ground rolls on

A new stand at Broadbridge Heath's new ground
A new stand at Broadbridge Heath's new ground

Broadbridge Heath are still none the wiser to when their new ground will be completed with a long list of work still to carry out.

Delay after delay has seen the completion date put back at least five times and club secretary Andy Crisp has admitted that they still do not have a confirmed date for when they can use the facilities.

You can see the latest pictures of Broadbridge Heath's new ground here

Planning permission for a new permanent home for the village club was agreed back in February 2017.

The plans included three football pitches, a club pavilion, two small stands, floodlights and fences on land south of the leisure centre, where they currently reside.

Plenty of the work has been carried out with the brand-new clubhouse standing tall and pitches, stands and dugouts all installed.

The football club have rented the previous Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre pitch for a number of years and the relocation to their own ground just to the south as part of a deal owing to the new centre construction and development of the village has been long awaited.

SEE ALSO Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre set to close | Inside the new Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre | All you need to know about the new Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre

The new £12.3m leisure centre was opened in October, but Heath are still waiting for yet another estimated date as to when they can move to their new premises.

Heath’s Crisp was keen to point out that they were not blaming Horsham District Council, but instead were frustrated with developers Countryside.

He said: “The never ending story continues. This year alone we were given completion dates of March, then June, August, September and the last confirmed date was the end of October.

“We expected all work on the site to be completed by then and we would move in to finish off some internal furnishings before we could get the FA Ground Grading and start playing matches.

“The pavilion was finished on August 8, but Horsham District Council would not take ownership of the building until all work on the site had been complete and they said they would do everything they could to ensure the developers complete all their work by October 31.”

Plenty of landscaping and planting all around the site and dressing and seeding is yet to be done, track matting between the pitches also needs to be removed and renovated.

The work around the main pitch, fencing and stands etc should be complete within the next couple of weeks, but the tarmac access road to the pavilion and main gate is still not finished.

But Crisp added: “Our biggest concern are the pitches, we’ve already ruled out the two lower pitches as not being fit for purpose this season and we just hope the main pitch does meet the required standard, an inspection is imminent on that.”

A Horsham District Council spokesman added: "The developer, Countyside Properties, is providing a new recreation ground to serve the growing Broadbridge Heath population as part of the Wickhurst Green Development. The site is adjacent to the new Bridge Leisure Centre and multi- use games areas and includes a skate park, landscaping and space for a number of football pitches.

“These pitches will be managed by Broadbridge Heath Football Club and will serve the extended football offer provided by this long established club. They include a new pitch for first team fixtures and a significant clbhouse development. The Council is directly involved in ensuring the first team pitch infrastructure allows the club to retain its Southern Combination League status.

“The Council’s understanding is that the delays have been due to a number of factors, most recently a very dry summer which hindered progress, and as a consequence, the latest deadline by which the overall site could reach a suitable condition for handover has been further delayed.

“The Council remains committed to facilitating this project and doing everything within its remit to reach a final solution which meets the needs of the Football Club and the local community.”

A spokesman from Countryside Properties, the developer, said: “We continue to work with Horsham District Council to ensure we provide the best possible community facilities in accordance with our section 106 obligations.

"The hot summer has proved a constraint but our team are committed and working hard to deliver high quality pitches and facilities for Broadbridge Heath Football Club’s long term use.”