Long-awaited Okehampton Rugby Club pitches improvement project set to begin

By Sally Shipton in Community News

OKEHAMPTON Rugby Club is set to begin a project costing more than £200,000 to improve drainage and facilities of its main pitch.

The club has secured funding of £50,000 from the Rugby Football Union, £65,000 from Sport England and £38,500 from Okehampton United Charities for the project.

Most recently, the club received £16,000 of funding from West Devon Borough Council towards the club’s pitch improvement project, which was supported by Okehampton Town Council and the Okehampton Hamlets Parish Council.

Club secretary Dave Potter said the club was pleased that the project could now move forward.

The rugby club had also carried out a number of fundraising projects, including the Two Moors Walk which was recently completed by chairman Robert Barkwell and chairman of juniors Robert Curtis.

Mr Potter said: ‘It is a major vote of confidence in the club that these bodies are prepared to offer grant funding for the project.

‘The club is very grateful to the councils, charities and organisations for the funding, which will go towards the total cost of £214,880.’

‘The present clubhouse and pitches were built around the 1970’s and have served the club well for nearly 50 years. The aim of the project is to provide excellent facilities for Okehampton Ruby Club to take it forward for the next 50 years.’

Mr Potter explained that the first phase of the project, to improve the back pitch, came to fruition in Summer 2016. The pitch came back into use in the Autumn 2016, though its use was restricted to junior age groups from Under 6 to Under 14 to allow it to mature fully.

The work carried out involved installing a new drainage system and improving the quality of the soil to make it permeable to rain water and cost £73,000 to complete. The pitch will now be ready for full use from the start of the 2017-18 season in September.

The second phase of the project would see similar, but more extensive, work carried out to the front pitch. This will include a new drainage system and the importation of a large amount of sandy top soil to level out the undulations in the playing surface and raise its level while improving its drainage qualities.

The work is scheduled to start by the end of May, and the pitch will be out of use until the Autumn of 2018.

Mr Potter also said that the club was working on phase three of the project, which was based on new land at Hilltown Cross, north west of Okehampton.

He said: ‘In parallel with phases one and two, the club has been working with an architect to design the layout and building at the Hilltown site. An application for planning permission has been submitted to West Devon Borough Council and fundraising for this site is already underway.’

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