Thetford Hockey Club fears folding after more than 40 years following £620,000 pitch change decision
The secretary of Thetford Hockey Club fears a £620,000 project to change pitches in the town could spell the end of a club that has played there for more than 40 years.
Richard Smith’s worries come after Breckland Council approved the resurfacing of the town’s leisure centre artificial pitches at Croxton Road to 3G at its planning committee meeting last month.
The decision was referred to the Planning Inspectorate, but it is believed they have confirmed authority for approval will remain with the local planning authority and therefore the decision on December 19 is upheld.
The project, 70 per cent funded by the Football Foundation, means a higher level of football can be played there but hockey can not use that type of surface.
Richard said: “We are still be able to play there and see out this season until April, but after that we don’t know where this leaves us. We were told the council was seeking a new pitch in town, but we have heard very little since last year.”
The club has signed an access agreement to use Watton’s pitch as a stopgap, but Richard added this could be a major issue for a club that has been a part of Thetford since 1977.
He said: “The main worry is for our junior section, which may not survive if parents have to take their children there. Our adult teams rely on them coming through our training programme and some parents have even taken up the sport, creating a real family atmosphere which could all be lost.”
A council spokesperson said that the council recognised the new pitch specification would not suit hockey.
The spokesperson added: “The project represents significant investment in the town and is expected to provide for casual football players as well as three football clubs, multi-sport disability use, walking football, football education, tots multi-sport and others.
“We have been engaging with local hockey clubs to better understand their requirements going forward and the council has secured some alternative options at other venues in the district.”