New community and sports hub a step closer after £2.5 million funding boost

The Blackbridge Community and Sports Hub has received a £2.5 million grant from the Youth Investment Fund to help bring the project to life.

A new community and sports hub for Gloucester is a step closer after a £2.5 million funding boost for the project.

The Blackbridge Community and Sports Hub has received a £2.5 million grant from the Youth Investment Fund to help bring the project to life.

The community and sports hub will include new youth facilities, learning and social space for all ages as well as sports pitches with a 3G all-weather football pitch, fitness gym, changing rooms and studio space for activities like yoga, pilates and martial arts.

The new two-storey building with viewing terrace will also provide space for community and youth events and activities, plus a bar and kitchen providing healthy food options. It is being driven by Blackbridge Charitable Community Benefit Society (BCCBS) a community group aiming to improve the facilities for local people and sports clubs. Once established the project will be entirely community owned and managed.

The Youth Investment Fund granted a total of £70 million to 44 youth projects nationwide, which will help over 12,000 more young people access the projects.

It comes as the city council’s Cabinet agreed to take on the freehold of part of the land for the new hub at July’s meeting. The council will take over the land from Gloucestershire County Council who are donating it.

It would then be leased together with the remaining land owned by the city council, to BCCBS on a 125-year lease.

Gloucester City Council has set aside £1.8 million from developer contributions, towards the £5 million project, backed by a number of sporting organisations including Sport England, the Football Association, England Hockey, the Rugby Football Union, the English Cricket Board and the Gloucestershire Active Partnership.

Efforts have also been made to ensure the development has a positive impact on the environment with plans to improve the biodiversity of the site through wildflower and tree planting that would see over 100 new trees planted.

It would also use sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) to improve local habitats and see the installation of bird and bat boxes.

Councillor Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “I am delighted that the Youth Investment Fund have seen the merits of this ambitious project. It will bring huge benefits to local people and give sports clubs access to some top class sporting facilities. It will also provide spaces for the community to come together and above all open up more opportunities for our young people.”

Cllr Lynden Stowe, cabinet member for finance and change at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to have provided land to support this community initiative to bring better sporting and community provision to Podsmead. The new hub will help to boost the number of people taking part in sports and community activities and improve health and wellbeing in the area, with residents having access to modern and welcoming facilities right on their doorstep.”

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester, said: “Wonderful news of government support for a local initiative and council priority that should make a big difference to sport in Podsmead and Tuffley.”

Gerry Hartin, CCBS director and Podsmead resident for 70 years, said: “This is excellent news for young people in the local area. The project will enable young people to create lots of new opportunities and improve their wellbeing. This ambitious project would not have been possible without the unstinting support of the Youth Investment Fund, the County and City Council, the MP and our ward councillor.”

Cllr Sebastian Field, local member for Podsmead at Gloucester City Council, said: “I am delighted to hear the news about this funding. It will make a huge difference in the Podsmead community, and marks a significant step forward for the Blackbridge Hub. The money will enable the project to reach many more people, especially young people, and I congratulate the Blackbridge Charitable Community Benefit Society for their work in securing this award.”