Harold Larwood Sports Complex will give Kirkby a ‘welcome boost’

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OFFICIALS behind ambitious plans to create a sports pavilion and pitches in Kirkby say it will provide a welcome boost to the area - and give Ashfield Rugby Club a home in the district for the first time in 12 years.

Earlier this month, we reported that Westerman Homes had submitted plans for a new development called Larwood Park, which would include the sports facilities along with 185 new houses, on land behind Ashfield Fire Station.

And if given the go-ahead, the site would include pitches for rugby, junior football, cricket, netball and the sports pavilion which would provide changing and viewing areas and refreshments.

Ashfield Rugby Union Football Club (RUFC), which has a host of teams including the Seniors, Juniors, Minis and Ladies, has been forced to play at a ground on Moor Lane in neighbouring Mansfield - but bosses there are hoping that this new development will provide a state-of-the art facility not just for the club but also for the wider community.

Chairman of the club, Des Wood, said: “The Rugby football Union (RFU) has always viewed Ashfield as a centre of excellence by putting two clubs together. Our dream is to be as good, if not better than Mansfield.”

Ashfield District Council’s planning committee is expected to make a decision on the plans in August and Mr Wood says that it would provide a training ground for talented sportsmen and women as well as offer activities for young people who may have problems in their lives, which is something the club has been involved in for some time through its Youth Development and Community Project.

Mr Wood added that the club provides a focal point and sense of belonging for many teenagers and said: “What we can do is emulate what Mansfield and Newark have done and go one better. We have got the home-grown talent to achieve a lot.

“We have home-grown talent on our doorstep that we can make very good use of.”

Meanwhile, bosses behind the ambitious scheme, which has been named in honour of Kirkby’s greatest ever sporstman, cricketer Harrold Larwood, have tried to allay fears from residents who have said that there would be a surge of traffic on Sutton Road if the plans were approved.

Part of the plans include improvements to a pedestrian crossing close to Ashfield School to ease the traffic flow - which according to the developers is often caused by young people pressing the button unnecessarily.

John Holmes, from planning consultancy firm Oxalis, said: “We do understand that traffic is a big issue - but because of the works we are doing, it will be improved.”