New sports facilities for Stowmarket under first stage of major project

Improved sports facilities in Stowmarket, including a new 3G football pitch, multi-use games area and mini athletics track, could move a step closer.


Improved sports facilities in Stowmarket, including a new 3G football pitch, multi-use games area and mini athletics track, could move a step closer in January.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a full business case for delivery of the first work package of the Stowmarket Health, Education and Leisure Facilities (SHELF) project.

The initial works also include an improved pitch for Stowmarket Rugby Club, community running track, cricket nets and additional paths and fencing.

The cabinet, which meets on 9 January, will consider a recommendation to put £450,000 towards the £2.4million scheme, with the remaining funding already identified from a range of external sources alongside Section 106 contributions.

The proposals focus on land surrounding Stowmarket High School and Chilton Fields, and follow extensive engagement with partner organisations and sports clubs after the Council’s refreshed Sports, Leisure and Physical Activity Strategy in 2021 found that increased and better facilities were needed in the town.

Subsequent work packages include construction of a new sports hall and sports pavilion alongside a multi-agency wellbeing space to bring additional services closer to local communities.

These new facilities would be available for use by residents, sports groups and clubs as well as schools.

Cllr Tim Weller, cabinet member for environment, culture and wellbeing at Mid Suffolk District Council, said:

“We are excited about these first plans for delivery which will offer improved sporting facilities to help Stowmarket’s growing population be more active.

Over time, this project has evolved to include different facilities designed to benefit the health and wellbeing of the local community. We’ve listened to what people want.

We plan to deliver this ambitious scheme over a number of stages, which is not unusual for something of this scale, but people will see from the first works proposed just how significant these improvements will be.”

Cllr Weller added:

“We want to move forward on delivering the pitches and running track, while continuing to work with partners, sports clubs and community stakeholders on the design and delivery of the next stages.

These are more complex, and will require further funding which will be assembled over the coming months as we remain determined to deliver a range of improved facilities for our communities.”

The proposed masterplan has been developed in partnership with key stakeholders including Suffolk County Council, Stowmarket Town Council, local schools, the leisure centre, the NHS, Active Suffolk, local sports clubs, the Football Foundation and Sport England.

The project aims to address health inequalities in Stowmarket, and particularly Chilton Ward, which often compare poorly against the local area and nationally. Around 12% of people in Stowmarket are classed as obese, compared to 10% in England, while 26.4% of children in Stowmarket are obese or overweight.

A detailed planning application for the first work package will be considered early in 2024, alongside outline plans for the subsequent stages.

Read the report paper to find out more about the proposal

Chilton Fields