New Mills chairman Ray Coverley say the Hallmark Security League club will continue its plans to develop a new sports facility in the town, following the local council’s decision to block a proposed redevelopment at Ollersett Fields.
The Millers have been looking to move to a new home for some time, and a new facility at the proposed venue with 3G pitches and facilities had been planned for use not only by the Millers, but also junior and girls teams from across the town, including New Mills Juniors, one of the largest sporting clubs in the area.
However, despite the pitches at Ollersett Fields being in a consistently poor condition, New Mills Town Council decided at a recent meeting to block the proposed development plans.
Speaking to the Buxton Advertiser, Coverley said: “The council say that the new facilities will have no real benefit to the community, only to New Mills AFC itself, which is staggering really, given it’s an entirely community-based proposal and designed to benefit everyone.
“We’ve been putting the plans together for a long time now with developers Morbaine, and this would have cost the council nothing, given Morbaine would have organised all of the public consultations and so on, but we’ve not even been allowed to get to that stage.
“It’s been a very sudden end to quite a drawn-out process and we’re desperately disappointed, as are our junior coaches and players, as they currently don’t have anywhere suitable to play regularly”.
Colin Ramwell, chairman of New Mills Juniors, echoed Coverley’s sentiments that the town desperately needs a new facility to accommodate young people wanting to play sport.
“We have around 170 FA registered players, and we are the largest playing sporting club in the area, but our facilities are very poor”, said Colin.
“We only have two pitches for ten teams to play football on. The REC on Wirksmoor Road and the proposed site of the new 3G facility at Ollersett Fields on Watburn Road.
“The Ollersett Fields site is in the main not fit for purpose. It is nearly always waterlogged as it has no working drainage, and I estimate we have played less than twn games on Ollersett over the last two seasons. From October to March last year we played no games on the pitch.
“For our teams based on Ollersett, we tend to have to play many of our home games away due to the pitch being unfit, with lots of unnecessary travel for our players and parents.
“Our under-8’s and 9‘s teams have to play all their games in Glossop on a 3G pitch due to lack of a pitch to play on in New Mills, a round trip for players and parents of around 20 miles each and every weekend.
“We cannot grow as a club and offer more children to play football due to the lack of facilities. The proposed new facility would not just be used for football. I also know of interest from hockey and lacrosse teams, neither of which are currently played in the area.
“For all those reasons, New Mills Juniors have been keen to back the New Mills AFC proposal for this new facility, and we are extremely disappointed that the council didn’t even vote for a public consultation”.
Despite the disappointment, Coverley has vowed to continue the fight to develop new facilities in the town.
“I’ve been involved with this club for 30 years and wanted this development to be my legacy, so I’m very frustrated at the way this has happened,” he said.
“It’s such a huge waste when you consider both what could be put in place instead and just how many people will be able to use the new facilities that would be available. I can’t understand how the council believes the community won’t reap the rewards.
“The option of developing our current home at Church Lane is still there, but we have limited space there and the end result wouldn’t be as useful.
“We are therefore looking at other sites around the town to develop. We are all keen to move this project forward for the benefit of ourselves, the other sports clubs in the area, and the whole community, and justify all the hard work that has gone in up to now.
“We will be looking to encourage input, ideas and support from across the local community with regards to our current propositions or suggestions for new locations, as ultimately a facility of this type is something that will be of benefit to everyone in the town and the surrounding area”.