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Stowmarket sports and wellbeing hub given backing by Mid Suffolk District Council



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Backing has been given for a new leisure and wellbeing hub in Stowmarket, which will now progress to detailed designs.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet on Monday morning unanimously approved the draft masterplan and initial business case for the scheme, which aims to provide updated sports and leisure facilities in the area.

Known as SHELF (Stowmarket health, education and leisure facility), the project includes a 4G football pitch, multi-use 2G pitch, mini athletics track, sports pavilion, multi-use games area, four indoor sports courts, new cricket square and nets and a multi-agency wellbeing hub.

A digital impression of the proposed new sports pavilion. Picture: MSDC/Saunders Boston Architects
A digital impression of the proposed new sports pavilion. Picture: MSDC/Saunders Boston Architects

It plans to incorporate the existing sports fields in north west Stowmarket around the high school and Chilton Fields, and reshape the current parking facilities at Chilton Fields.

The cabinet’s backing means it will go to full council later this month, before progressing on to detailed designs, public consultation to shape the plans and then on to a formal planning application.

Cllr Harry Richardson, Conservative cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said it was “a really exciting and ambitious opportunity for Mid Suffolk”.

An overview of the proposed provision of sport, leisure and wellbeing facilities at the new hub in Stowmarket. Picture: MSDC/SAUNDERS BOSTON
An overview of the proposed provision of sport, leisure and wellbeing facilities at the new hub in Stowmarket. Picture: MSDC/SAUNDERS BOSTON

“This facility, better known as the SHELF project, represents a significant programme of work that will considerably enhance the sport and leisure provision within Mid Suffolk, facilitating the much-needed expansion of Stowmarket High School, and develop a new intuitive wellbeing hub to enable the co-location of services with our partners in health and social care,” he said.

The council said the project initially began as a scheme to resolve issues with the school’s lack of sports facilities, but has expanded to recognise that more opportunities existed with a partnership project between the high school, leisure centre, sports clubs and nursery which currently run the existing facilities.

The next stage of work is expected to cost around £700,000, which includes surveys, detailed design work and pre-application work.

Dave Lee-Allan, Stowmarket High School headteacher, said: “Stowmarket High School is fundamentally committed to working with our strategic partners in Mid Suffolk, with Suffolk County Council and all the other sports and wellbeing organisations to provide an exceptional range of facilities for the students and communities of Stowmarket.

“We are very excited about what the future can offer and believe that this project highlights the exceptional ambition that will well serve the growing Stowmarket population.”

Details of a full business case are expected to be submitted to cabinet and full council by the end of the year.