A £4m sports village is set to open five years earlier than planned after a council and property developer struck a deal with a landowner.
Hambleton District Council aims to open a nine-acre site featuring pitches for rugby and football, improved facilities for hockey and skateboarding, allotments and a cycle track alongside the 925-home Sowerby Gateway estate by 2017.
The land is set to be signed over to the authority in a matter of weeks as part of a move to ensure a key part of the community element of the scheme to build the district’s largest housing estate is completed.
The council’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said: “I was concerned, as were residents, that there have been instances in North Yorkshire where developers have completed building houses and then disappear before delivering the promised infrastructure and recreation facilities.
“The land for the sports village wasn’t due to be handed over until the 120th property was occupied, so securing it means Hambleton can look at match funding, soil and land surveys and developing a planning application.”
Acquiring the land will also make it easier for the council to apply for £2.5m of funding from a range of organisations to add to the £1.5m pledged for the sports village by developer Mulberry Homes.
Coun Robson said he hoped a planning application for the sports village, which will also include a pavilion, four car parks with a total of 300 spaces and a community garden, would be lodged by autumn next year.
He said: “There was a lot of concern from residents that this sports village would never happen, but this shows we are making the best of the situation.”
Following a public consultation in November, the blueprint for the sports village has been revised to reflect 12 issues raised by residents.
Coun Robson said: “The plan has changed quite dramatically to meet the concerns, so we have decided to hold another exhibition to inform residents about the new proposal.”
Changes to the scheme include moving the main vehicle access from Gravel Hole Lane to Topcliffe Road, relocating allotments to create landscaped boundaries with Kings Meadows and the new Extra Care facility, and relocating the floodlit pitches to a central point in the site.
The exhibition will be held at Thirsk School and Sixth Form College on May 1, from 4pm to 6pm.
The plans can also be viewed at hambleton.gov.uk from April 28 and at Thirsk Library between May 2 and May 17.