Partnership closes in on sports ground victory

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COUNCILLORS have rubber-stamped the sale of Bury St Edmunds’ Victory Sports Ground to a community partnership.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet backed a proposal to sell the freehold interest of the site for £100,000 to the group, which includes the Victory Sports Ground Limited, Bury Cricket Club and South Lee School.

The move secures the future of sport at the ground for generations to come with a covenant imposed on the sale which restricts its uses to community and recreational only.

The partnership plans to give the site a £1.8 million revamp, which includes a new pavilion, clubhouse and function space overlooking both cricket areas with four changing rooms.

There would also be a four/five badminton court-sized sports hall with two adjoining changing rooms.

In terms of funding, South Lee School is providing £1.5 million with the Cricket Club contributing £250,000.

An additional £150,000 could be generated through a borough council bid to Sport England.

The request to purchase the freehold also allows additional funding applications to be made to enhance the development.

The former Greene King-owned grounds have been leased to Victory Sports Ground Ltd by the council since 2001.

At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, Bury Cricket Club president David Barker said: “We’ve this vision of providing a centre of excellence for sport in Bury St Edmunds but we need that long term security. We couldn’t do it on a leasehold basis.”

Cllr Terry Clements added: “I’m so pleased to support this. It’s going to be there for youngsters and everyone in the future. It’s absolutely brilliant for the town.”

A planning application for the major development is now expected to be drafted and submitted to the authority.

The project could be completed by 2013.