NEW facilities for South Somerset’s football, rugby, cricket and hockey teams will be provided over the coming decade following a council decision.

South Somerset District Council has put together a playing pitch strategy, laying out what it believes are the sporting and leisure needs of the whole district over the next 10 years.

The strategy includes commitments to providing new football and rugby pitches, improving changing facilities and securing greater community access to school facilities across the whole area.

Any new pitches – including artificial grass pitches – will be delivered through a mixture of grant funding and contributions from housing developers, rather than directly out of the council’s own budget.

The strategy came before the council’s district executive committee for approval in Yeovil on Thursday (July 5).

Councillor Sylvia Seal, portfolio holder for leisure and culture, said the strategy was an assessment of what facilities were required, rather than a commitment set in stone to deliver these facilities.

She said: “What comes out will rely heavily upon the economy, and housing, and what we can get out of Section 106s.

“If everything goes pear-shaped, say because of Brexit, then our strategy will have to be altered.

“A strategy is never cast in stone – it’s a road which you want to take.”

South Somerset is divided into four areas – north, east, south and west – with the strategy laying out what facilities for football, rugby, cricket and hockey will be required between now and 2028.


In area west, a new AGP pitch and “appropriately sized” football pitches will be provided in Crewkerne, Chard and Ilminster to replace existing “sub-standard” facilities and allow for housing growth.

Community use of non-turf cricket wickets in Chard and Crewkerne will be secured to address “over-crowding” at the Henhayes Recreation Ground, where cricket, rugby and football clubs compete for the same space.

Improved changing facilities will be provided at Chard RFC as well as the recreation grounds in Forton and Ilminster, An additional rugby pitch will be provided in Crewkerne, with community use of school pitches being negotiated and the prospect of a new rugby AGP will be explored.

Cllr Val Keitch of Ilminster, who is on the executive commitee, said: "I am pleased to see the Playing Pitch strategy .It is a comprenensive needs analysis and will assist the council in their future planning."


In area north, the council has pledged to ensure “appropriate and enhanced” changing rooms on Somerton Recreation Ground, as well as at the recreation grounds in Langport and Martock.

Somerton is identified as needing an additional football pitch, while greater use of Huish Episcopi’s existing artificial grass pitch (AGP) is to be encouraged.

The council will also look at securing Pitney playing fields for Somerton’s rugby club if a further rugby pitch cannot be provided in the town.


In area south – Yeovil and the surrounding villages – new adult football pitches could be provided at Turners Barn Lane, with usage of Yeovil Recreation Centre being promoted and The council will seek FA accreditation for the existing AGP at Bucklers Mead Academy, with community access to school pitches across Yeovil being secured through negotiations.

In addition, a new cricket pitch will be provided in Yeovil, and both East Coker and West Coker will have their changing facilities improved.


In area east, the changing facilities at Jubilee Park in Bruton will be enhanced, and work will be done to “determine the viability of delivering a new or larger artificial grass pitch” for the area.

The changing facilities for Sparkford Cricket Club and the Donald Pither Memorial Ground in Castle Cary have also been earmarked for improvements.

The council will also seek to reinstate rugby at the Moor Lane site in Wincanton, or to secure community use of the pitches at King Arthur’s Community School in the town.

As for hockey, work will be undertaken to secure access to existing sand-based hockey pitches in the area, all of which are owned by independent schools.

Councillor Nick Weeks, whose ward includes Castle Cary, said that there was a genuine need for an AGP in area east because of the lack of local provision.

He said: “There are children in area east who can go through school without ever putting their foot on an astroturf pitch – and that’s not good enough.

“I’ve got nearly 1,000 houses coming in Castle Cary, but I can’t get any more money for an AGP. We don’t want any more grass pitches, and we can’t get it on the poxy amount of CIL.”

CIL – community interest levy – is money sourced from housing developers which does not have to be spent on facilities in the area affected by a given development.

Mr Weeks also claimed that Ofsted had advised two schools in Bruton to not allow public use of their sports facilities due to concerns over child safeguarding.

Councillor Angie Singleton, who represents Crewkerne, said that “positive dialogue” was needs so that schools felt comfortable with opening up their facilities to the public.

The committee voted to approve the strategy.