Plans for a new state-of-the-art sports centre in Helsby which will help to ‘give the village a new heart’ have been unanimously approved.
Brookhouse’s ambitious development to replace the volunteer-run Helsby Community Sports Club with improved facilities received the green light when it came before Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee on Thursday (March 19).
The decision to also give permission to the scheme’s enabling application of 120 homes was met with a round of applause by residents and councillors who attended the meeting.
Efforts to rebuild the crumbling club – which is home to football, rugby, tennis, bowls, running and fishing sections – have been more than a decade in the making.
Members of Helsby Running Club ran to Cheshire West and Chester Council HQ in Chester where the strategic planning meeting was held to show their support for the applications.
Its chairwoman Jackie Keasley spoke with passion at the meeting about the need for new facilities and told committee members that the current building is ‘under imminent threat of collapse’.
She said: “The current condition of the clubhouse is threatening the future of sport and leisure in the area.
“It is a credit to members that despite the aging facilities our sections are still thriving with the dedication of coaches, volunteers and members.
“For all this to continue we desperately need to replace our sporting hub with the planned club house and associated sports facilities being considered here today.”
Cllr Lynn Riley, who represents Helsby’s neighbouring ward Frodsham, also attended the meeting to recommend the applications for approval.
“If ever there was a case of good things come to those who wait, this it probably that project,” she said.
“These are applications that have been brought to you by a community that wants to take control of its own destiny.
“It is invoking its community right to build and community right to run services and facilities for its own residents.”
A development group comprising members of the sports club has been heavily involved in drawing up the plans, which feature a multi-use sports hall complete with an office for Helsby Parish Council, improved changing and function facilities, a 3G 11-aside football pitch, two bowling greens, four tennis courts and a running loop around the new pitch.
Brookhouse propose to build the homes on the site of the existing Helsby Community Sports Club, while its replacement will be located on Callender Way, some 250 metres away.
Helsby resident Phil Gillard said the current club is an ‘eyesore’ and that the new facilities will be ‘the last pieces of the jigsaw in giving the village a new heart’.
Speaking to the Chronicle after the meeting, Helsby parish councillor Terry O’Neill said: “I have been involved with this project since 2002 and the reality of it actually getting off the ground is wonderful news.
“A massive thanks should go to all who have been involved and kept faith, particularly Brookhouse which has been behind us all this time.
“Now the hard work starts in our quest to find the gap in funding so that we get a spade in the ground as soon as possible so this will become a project we can all be proud of.”