BRIDGWATER'S Bristol Road Playing Fields are set to look very different in the near future, under plans revealed by Bridgwater United Football Club.

In conjunction with Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust (BUCST) and Sedgemoor District Council, the football club plans to renew and rejuvenate what has been identified as "park land with no clear usage".

Bristol Road Playing Fields are located between Bristol Road and Bath Road in the town, and are currently maintained by the district council.

Surrounded by housing (on two sides), a cemetery and a railway line, the 11-acre site once held multiple pitches for recreational sport, until the council pulled out of football facilities several years ago.

With the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating health and wellbeing trends within the local community, a green space and safe destination for leisure and recreational activities is deemed to be of benefit to all.

The parties involved in the development intend to deliver a community asset that will once again see sporting activity return to the site and address the current shortage of football and sports-related facilities within the town.

Bridgwater Mercury:

COMMUNITY ASSET: The park is to contain children’s play areas and walking routes

The ambition for the site is to create a joint community and sports trust complex, which will be the central location for BUCST's delivery programmes, while also housing a dedicated stadium and training facility for of Bridgwater United's women's first team, and youth academies for male and female players.

The complex is also set to contain a community park with children’s play areas, activity areas, walking and dog walking routes, picnic areas, provision of an outdoor gym, and a mixture of five-a-side 3G and multi-sport hard-court playing surfaces and community football pitches.

A community pavilion will service the park with toilets, changing rooms, classrooms and a café, while improved footpaths and cycle ways along Bristol Road are planned to provide improved pedestrian access to the proposed development

The proposed stadium for Bridgwater United Women is to accommodate up to 3,000 spectators, reaffirming the club's ambition of competing in the top flight of the English football pyramid (the FA Women’s Super League).

Bridgwater Mercury:

AMBITION: The proposed stadium for Bridgwater United's women's team

Adam Murry, Bridgwater United's chief executive and the driving force behind the newly merged club's future ambitions, said: “Sport has this amazing, unique way of making a positive impact in society.

"Whether it's helping children, communities or even nations, sport makes a difference on a daily basis.

"Sport and recreation is about helping build stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities.

"Communities that participate in sport and recreation develop strong social bonds, are safer places and the people who live in them are generally healthier and happier than places where physical activity isn’t a priority.

"The Bristol Road Playing Field proposal is a pioneering project that Bridgwater United FC, with the help of Sedgemoor District Council, will deliver a fantastic community and varied sports facility, and serve as a destination point that Bridgwater and Somerset can be proud of."

Murry added: "With the football club's stadium vision under way and ownership secured, the successful launch of the Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust and local support for this going from strength to strength, and launch of the Bridgwater United’s youth Academies this month, it is a very exciting time that I am proud to be part of.

"I would also like to express my sincere thanks to Tim Mander and the district council leadership team, Bridgwater Town Council and all other relevant parties who are all determined to put the Bridgwater community at the forefront of their agendas, for their valued commitment in helping us towards achieving this fantastic vision for the community."

Bridgwater Mercury:

COMPLEX: Another CGI image of the proposed playing fields development

The club's chief operating officer Ewan Greenhill commented: “This is a landmark complex for Bridgwater, Somerset and the country as a whole.

"Nowhere to our knowledge in the country does a sports trust have its own facility to deliver its practical, life-changing sessions, nor does a football club operating anywhere in the Women’s Football Pyramid have its own ground and training pitches.

"This complex will provide pioneering opportunities for all.”

Bridgwater United community development manager Oli Moore said: “All partners involved within this project believe that Bridgwater and the county of Somerset is a fantastic place to live and work.

"Our vision for Bristol Road Playing Fields will showcase the pride we all have in our area by investing in our community.

"It will be a hub for all to enjoy and will bring health and wellbeing benefits with it.”

A district council spokesperson said: “Sedgemoor District Council has been delighted to work with both Bridgwater United FC and the newly formed Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust, and is keen to support what is clearly an exciting and innovative project.

"Clearly there is some way to go before the project is close to delivery, but the signs so far are very positive.

"The council encourages the BUCST to continue to work with the local community and awaits the submission of a planning application with much interest.”

The football club and sports trust are currently working towards a public consultation, in partnership with the district council, with further details to be communicated in due course.

Letters of support for this project have been received from the Football Association, Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP), Sparks Somerset, Bridgwater Foodbank, Bridgwater & Taunton College and the Association of Colleges, among others.