Norwich City Community Sports Foundation (CSF), the official charity arm of Norwich City Football Club, has unveiled plans for an exciting new facility on the site of a disused sports ground in Horsford.
The former Anglian Windows Sports and Social Club, on Holt Road, has been closed since 2014 but after recently acquiring the land, CSF have sought permission from Broadland District Council to build a multi-purpose sports and residential facility that would increase opportunities for local people.
Initial plans would see the renovation of the site’s existing clubhouse and relaying of seven grass football pitches by the end of summer 2018.
The estimated £1.1m project, which will be funded externally from a number of sources such as grants and fundraising – and not from Football Club funds – will benefit a range of groups and individuals locally, including participants on the Foundation’s programmes for disabled and disadvantaged people, grass-roots football teams such as Hellesdon FC and Horsford FC, and young people on the National Citizen Service programme.
Jackie Thornton, Head of Development for CSF, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Anglian Home Improvements for surrendering their lease early and to Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council for allowing us to purchase the land, which means that we can begin work on renovating the clubhouse and pitches this year while installing residential ‘bunk boxes’, subject to the approval of our planning request.
“There is a great deal of excitement from residents that we have spoken to and we’re really appreciative of the support for the project that we have gained during our consultation, including from Norwich International Airport, Broadland District Council, and Norfolk County FA.”
Leader of Broadland District Council, Cllr Andrew Proctor, added: “The proposal to bring this major sporting facility to Broadland is very exciting and it has real future potential to benefit our community.”
CSF is a registered charity and helps over 38,000 people a year, through various programmes, which include work with disabled and disadvantaged people in Norfolk.
The Foundation has given a nod to the Canaries’ history by electing to name the facility ‘The Nest’, after their home until 1935.
“As soon as we put the name forward, everyone who heard it really liked the idea” said Thornton. “As well as the historical significance to Norwich City FC, the name lends itself nicely to what we’re trying to create – a safe, nurturing environment where people can come and develop with us.”
The Foundation is financially independent from the Football Club and organises a number of fundraising events, such as the celebrity football match Jamie’s Game and Run Norwich, the hugely popular 10k road race through the city centre.
It is events like this, and external funding, that are essential to the sustainability of many of the Foundation’s programmes.
“This renovation of the site is a significant investment, and we’ve applied for a grant from the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund to make it possible, while we also hope to raise a further £200k from our fundraising activities towards the work,” said Thornton.
In addition, CSF is exploring options for future phases of the project that would potentially include indoor sports and classroom facilities.
Norwich City FC director Tom Smith, who is a trustee of the charity, said: “The creation of the Nest will turn a derelict site into a hive of activity where people can learn, grow and spread their wings. It will provide a step-change in the Foundation’s ability to reach out and help thousands of individuals regardless of age, gender or ability. It’s a fantastic project.
“We do have aspirations to develop the site beyond this initial phase, but these further developments will only be possible if we are able to secure a large amount of financial support in the way of grants and fundraising. Once we have gauged the support that we can attract for further development, and when we receive feedback from Broadland District Council on our planning application, then we can set out our long-term vision for the site and begin our journey to achieving it.
“It’s important to note that the Football Club’s funds will not be used for this development, but the Club will work closely with the Foundation on a number of initiatives to bring The Nest to life. We are proud to be a community Club, and City fans can be proud that their Club and the Foundation are committed to investing in the future of people across Norfolk and East Anglia.”
An overview of the planning application made by CSF can be found at www.thenest.org.uk. Enquiries about the project should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org, FAO Jackie Thornton.