New £1.5m leisure facilities given go-ahead as part of housing scheme

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Million pound sports and recreational facilities are set to be built in Hambleton as part of controversial major housing scheme in a village on the outskirts of Thirsk.

Councillors have agreed to push forward with the project in Sowerby after securing £1.5m alongside 20 acres of land from developers.

The decision means that after two years of consultation with local community groups, new facilities for rugby, junior football and off-road cycling could be created, along with youth amenities and allotments or community gardens.

Plans also include green spaces, children’s play areas, cycleways and areas of public art.

The project, which will be delivered by Hambleton District Council, will be voluntarily managed by residents and community groups and work is expected to start in autumn.

Hambleton’s cabinet member for health and leisure, Coun Peter Wilkinson, said: “After years of planning it looks likely that work to create new sporting facilities for Thirsk and Sowerby will begin in the Olympic year.

“Subject to the housing site proceeding, the district council will lead a group of local sporting organisations through the planning and design of the new facilities, their delivery and ultimately the setting up of a sustainable local management body to ensure they have a strong future.”

The new facilities will form part of The Sowerby Gateway project – one of the biggest housing developments Hambleton has ever seen.

The district council approved the scheme in December in an attempt to address a silent crisis of affordable housing, despite warnings from campaigners it could have a devastating impact on the area.

The massive development, from the Castlevale Group, will provide 920 homes, 40 per cent of which are “affordable”, a new seven classroom primary school, employment opportunities and community facilities over the next 15 years.

The scheme, which was first mooted back in 2007, represents the biggest development to ever take place in the district alongside the proposed £200m North Northallerton development master-plan.