A LONG-held ambition to provide a range of outdoor recreation facilities for residents of a county town and its surrounding villages could be achieved in five years, a report has revealed.

Hambleton District Council’s cabinet will next week consider approving a masterplan for a £2.5m sports village flanked by Brompton Beck and Hambleton Leisure Centre, which is viewed as a key part of 900-home estate North Northallerton scheme.

The blueprint, which has been drawn up following numerous meetings in recent years with sports clubs from Northallerton, Romanby and Brompton, following capacity issues for a range of sports being identified.

National governing bodies Sport England, the Football Association and England Hockey have been involved helping develop the sports village strategy, which aims to provide new opportunities for both formal organised sport and informal unsupervised recreation.

Long-serving Northallerton councillor David Blades said the area lacked sporting provision and facilities for younger people and the scheme would represent a very positive step forward.

The £1m first phase of the scheme, scheduled to be opened to the public in 2023, would see the existing park area at Stone Cross linked with new land to the north from the North Northallerton development.

The initial phase would include enhanced and new trail, allotments, small car park, extensive planting and woodland management, a wetland area near Northallerton Road, an edible planting area, benches, interpretation boards, signage and habitat boxes, alongside a bridge over the nearby railway line. An officer’s report to the cabinet states while the governing bodies have shown support for the scheme that does not necessarily mean that they will provide grants.

The report adds that the second phase of the sports village “might develop to accommodate other sports and initiatives as time progresses” as national and local priorities change in reaction to Covid-19. However, it states grass and artificial pitches, will remain central to the scheme.

Nevertheless, officers warn that if the scheme does not go ahead and the site remains undeveloped, residents “will have a negative view which will have a reputational impact” on the council and that local sports clubs could see falling numbers of members.

The report concludes: “Outcomes from the project will include an increase in the number of people participating in physical and community activity, which will contribute to improved health and wellbeing, as well as a reduction in health threatening conditions.

“The project will also enhance the biodiversity of the area by the creation of a high quality green space that will increase habitats for native species through a comprehensive landscaping plan, woodland management and the installation of bird boxes, bat boxes and otter holt.”