Ambitious Halesworth project has taken step forward

The site of the former Halesworth Middle School is where the long-awaited sports and leisure project

The site of the former Halesworth Middle School is where the long-awaited sports and leisure project would be. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Ambitious plans to transform land in Halesworth into a multi-purpose facility offering a sports centre, swimming pool, healthcare provision and housing, have moved a step closer.

At a general meeting last week, Halesworth Playing Fields Association (HPFA) voted to approve a memorandum of sale of the Dairy Hill Land which it has held in trust for the people of the town.

Subject to planning permission and contract, the move would allow HPFA, as a registered charity, to work alongside The Halesworth Campus Ltd, also a charity, to press ahead with the long-awaited sports and leisure project on the site of the Halesworth Middle School which closed in 2012.

Chairman of the HPFA, Martin Ducker, said: “The approval of the memorandum of sale represents a massive step forward to achieving the twin goals for the people of the Halesworth area.

Providing first class sporting facilities and a possible replacement for our much-loved Patrick Stead Hospital which is under threat of closure by the health authority.

“For 25 years, we have searched for ways to improve our very limited and outdated sports provision, but now we have a very real opportunity to see our dream realised.

“We look forward to working with Castlemeadow Care and Halesworth Campus group in bringing our hopes and aspirations to fruition.”

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In 2010, volunteers set up the Halesworth Campus Action Group, including stakeholders from Suffolk County, District and Local Councils, the health service, Halesworth Playing Fields and others in a bid to bring the plans to fruition.

Since then, a number of sites have been looked at but were found to be unsuitable.

Ezra Leverett, trustee of HPFA, said he was delighted with the memorandum of sale.

“This land is held in trust by HPFA for the community,” said Mr Leverett.

“The sale will help us to achieve the long-awaited, first class sporting provision that our community deserves.

“With land sales of this nature, there are checks and balances and the HPFA have to ensure that we meet the Charity Commission strict code of practice that governs our charity.

“But this project is not just about sport, it’s about a unique, ground-breaking project that will embrace sport, health care and targeted housing.

“It will mean all sectors, sport, health and planners working together, moving swiftly to accommodate the six sports clubs that make up the HPFA on the new site and informing the public at each step of the way.

“There isn’t anyone I know that does not want this exciting project to succeed.”

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