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Allocation of pitches at the North East Hook development

Following the resolution made at the Full Council meeting on the 8th January 2020 regarding the allocation of the pitches at the North East Hook development, Hook Parish Council has released the following statement to provide some background to the decision taken.

Since the Community Centre was built in 1991, Hook United Youth Football Club (HUYFC) had a ‘home ground’ at Hartletts Park, along with a ‘clubroom’ and changing facilities in the Community Centre.  In 2003/4, the HUYFC management team decided they no longer wished to pay for the use of facilities as they were not being used, other than for storing kit and trophies.  They also claimed it was too far from the pitches and chose to terminate their agreement with Hook Village Community Association (HVCA), the predecessor of Hook Village Halls Charitable Association (HVHCA).  That space is now occupied by Hartletts Café and the Village Nursery.

Prior to the redevelopment of the Community Centre in 2013-15, HUYFC were asked what facilities they required.  They only requested access to use changing rooms and showers when required.  Whilst access is still available by arrangement with the Squash Club, in practice, one changing room is used for storage.

In 2013, Hart was in negotiations with the NE Hook developer for contributions to community leisure.  The Parish Council was asked to produce a bid to enable them to include a sum of money for facilities and sports pitch land.  This bid included some input from all three of the field based sports clubs operating in Hook at that time.  The pitches were never formally ‘earmarked’ for any single sport.

Hook & Odiham Rugby Football Club (HORFC) did not exist in June 2013, but formally approached the Council in 2015, requesting provision for rugby.  No formal decision is made by the Parish Council on use of open space, until it is invited to adopt the land.

Discussions with the developer only started in November 2019, when they submitted the specification for setting out the composition of the land.  It is the policy of the Council to investigate the suitability of land for use by all types of field sports.  Normally that decision would not occur until the land was transferred to the Parish Council, but the developer gave short notice of their need to complete groundworks quickly, to the specific sport specifications required.

As both the rugby and youth football clubs had an interest in use of the pitches, both were sent the same written brief by the Parish Council for bids to be received before 25th November 2019.  This bid, for use of the pitches, needed to include a statement in respect of shared use, which was the Council’s preference.   HUYFC stated, in their bid and verbally at the meeting that sharing was not an option.

The submitted bids were sent to all Councillors on 28th November to give ample time for this information to be digested.  The bids were then considered, along with verbal representations from both clubs, at the Council meeting in January.   The minutes of that meeting have been published.

It is unlikely that the pitches at NE Hook will be playable until the 2022/23 Season, so the final situation on sharing the field is fluid.  Since the Council meeting in January, other sports have also expressed an interest in having shared use of the facilities.  The Parish Council will consider these during the intervening period to 2022.  Concern expressed by HUYFC about the ongoing use of the pitches at Bramshill is likely to be clarified by the time NE Hook is available to use.

The Parish Council is approached on a regular basis by a variety of sports coaches and groups to develop facilities.  The Council will continue to look at the possible acquisition of land to provide and support the development of the widest possible leisure and sporting opportunities in Hook.