Work starts on new sports facilities as part of town centre revamp

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

THE multi-million pound revamp of a Teesside town is continuing with work underway on new sports facilities.

Billingham’s John Whitehead Park is getting a new “multi-use games area” – a hard surface for sports such as football, basketball and netball.

The park’s tennis courts are also being improved and upgraded and a new BMX and skatepark – which youngsters in the area have helped design – is being built.

Work has already started on the games area, and the tennis courts will be upgraded in the next few weeks. The number of courts will be reduced from six to four but the facilities will be improved.

Billingham Tennis Club will then take over the management of the tennis courts and provide training and coaching sessions.

Skateboarders and BMX riders – including many youngsters in the area - had a say in the final design of the BMX and skatepark. Subject to planning permission, work will start in the spring.

Funding for the new sports facilities has been secured from a number of sources - £41,000 from SITA Trust, £131,500 from Sport England Inspired facilities, £20,000 from Provident Finance and the remainder from Stockton Council.

Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for arts, leisure and culture, said: "It is wonderful to see work starting on the multi use games area and tennis courts. John Whitehead Park is already a well-used and popular park and these extra facilities will attract more people there.

"It will allow people of all ages to enjoy sports such as basketball and football.

"It is also exciting to see plans progress for the BMX and skatepark – we know there is a huge appetite for this type of facility and we have worked with a large number of young people and designers to ensure we provide them with a purpose-built BMX and skatepark."

The improvements to John Whitehead Park are part of the revamp of Billingham town centre.

In the town centre, new public toilets opened recently – and early this year the revamp will continue with new paving and public realm works, with the old toilet blocks being demolished. New paving, seating, feature lighting and a bandstand will be installed worth more than £2.3m.

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