The public consultation regarding the use of an area of The Common to be levelled so that the younger members of the Rugby Club and the Marlborough Youth Football Club can train for about 250 hours per year will be drawing to a close in two weeks – on Thursday 25 March at 4pm.
The consultation is on the Town Council website and can be accessed by clicking here.
Marlborough, a town of nearly 9,000 population has limited space for sporting activity, although numerous very active sports clubs that give the younger members (and some older as well) the chance to learn, practice and hone their skills.
Compared to other nearby smaller towns Marlborough has very limited facilities – four football and two rugby pitches. Even Highworth has 13 pitches, and Malmesbury, just over half the size of Marlborough boasts an impressive 22 pitches. This sets the need for more facilities into a far wider context.
This area on the Common won’t be taken over completely by the two clubs. Although it will provide a training facility for maybe 800 younger people – Rugby and Football – it won’t be restricted to that use only. Estimates are that the total use across a year will be roughly 250 hours in total. It won’t be fenced off, it will be open to all users of The Common so runners, dog owners, walkers will have just as much access as they do now.
Ironically it’s the Golf Club that takes up most of The Common – leasing 25 of the total 45 Hectares, whilst the Rugby Club currently takes up 3. All of the Golf Club space is for the use of Golf Club members.
Both the Marlborough Rugby Club and the Youth Football Club are not-for-profit, volunteer run, funded by sponsorship and subscriptions, making a net financial contribution to Marlborough Town Council.
How many could possibly use this facility? The rugby club currently has around 370 young (under 18 year old) players currently registered with England Rugby Football Union (RFU); the Youth Football Club has around 430 players on their books. In total, this represents about 20% of the 3-18 years old population of the wider Marlborough community area.
Sport is widely recognised as critical to mental and physical health but there is a desperate shortage of playing areas in Marlborough with MYFC having to train at Burbage, Great Bedwyn, Pewsey & Hungerford. Travelling long distances reduces participation due to family commitments, cost and access to transport. To meet the current demand, both clubs – Rugby and Football are reliant on goodwill of the College (as are Marlborough Hockey and Athletics clubs).
This project isn’t a total repurposing of part of The Common. It’s a process of levelling the ground by putting topsoil of up to 100mm and then reseeding, so that the area will be easier to walk across as well as being suitable for the occasional use by the two clubs for training.
No permanent fixtures will be there – no goal posts or rugby posts – anything used for training will be removed after each session and stored elsewhere.
The space occupied by the current Rugby Pitches are open to everyone, this will be no different in that respect other than the complete lack of fixed items such as posts, rails etc.
Will this cost residents and taxpayers of Marlborough? The clubs are planning to cover the overall cost of approximately £30,000 themselves, from grants, sponsorship, crowd funding etc., so the answer is no.
In summary, this proposal makes an existing piece of land a bit flatter. Makes it possible to be used as an area for sports training for a few hours each week by maybe eight hundred of the Town’s young population but doesn’t take away the accessibility by any other users of The Common, just makes it easier to walk on.