The chief executive of the Magna Vitae Trust has said that plans to replace the AstroTurf at the London Road Pavilion with a ‘state-of-the-art 3G surface’ are being reconsidered, following concerns raised by Louth Hockey Club.
Chief Executive Mark Humphreys has revealed that an initial plan to apply for immediate funding from the Football Foundation to replace the AstroTurf with a 3G surface is being reconsidered following talks with the Hockey Club and East Lindsey District Council (ELDC).
Under current England Hockey rules, league matches cannot be played on 3G surfaces - and would have left Louth Hockey Club facing an uncertain future.
The facility is currently also used by cricket and football clubs, both of which can play on 3G surfaces.
Mr Humphreys said that the Magna Vitae Trust - which runs leisure and sports facilities across the district on behalf of ELDC - are now considering ‘a number of options’ which will hopefully secure a ‘bright future’ for the London Road Pavilion.
He said that these considerations will take place over the course of the next few months, working with partners, sports clubs and ELDC to look at possible income streams, grant funding potential, and future operating arrangements.
The plans to replace the current surface arose after the Magna Vitae Trust announced the major review, after agreeing a new five-year business plan with ELDC which highlighted concerns over the ‘aging’ AstroTurf pitch at the site.
Mr Humphreys said the grant-funded AstroTurf facility was coming towards the end of its 21-year life span, with a full replacement likely to cost in the region of £300,000. He added that the Magna Vitae Trust took over management of the venue in 2015 and, with no contingency in place for replacement pre-2015, a decision has to be made about its future.
Mr Humphreys attended a Louth Hockey Club meeting last week and, after further talks with ELDC yesterday (Tuesday), the Trust has decided to look at further options which would allow the club to remain at the site.
Mr Humphreys said: “This site is a popular venue for hundreds of sporting enthusiasts from Louth and the wider area.
“As we move forward we must look at development that is in the best interests of all those who use it and we look forward to engaging with clubs and organisations to make that happen.
“We would like to reassure all at the Hockey Club that we have listened to members’ concerns surrounding its future, and have acted upon those concerns.”
Lesley Ward, chairman of Louth Hockey Club, said that the Magna Vitae Trust’s decision to reconsider was a ‘positive’ move, and that the club would work with Magna Vitae going forward.
Ms Ward added that she had received support from club members, local councillors, and members of the public after revealing that the club’s future was under threat last week, prior to the Magna Vitae Trust’s decision to reconsider.
However, Ms Ward reiterated that the Hockey Club is ‘not out of the woods’ yet, as no final decisions have been made at this early stage.