Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead Hockey Club have submitted rigorous plans to Dacorum Borough Council to build an artificial multi-use sporting facility for the community.
The project includes a full-size artificial grass pitch (AGP) with fencing and specialist floodlighting at Cow Roast, Tring, which has piqued the interest of South West Hertfordshire MP, Gagan Mohindra, who visited the club in June.
If accepted, the club firmly believes this modern astroturf development would actively encourage, promote, and develop sport in Dacorum and help put this corner of Hertfordshire on the hockey map.
Mr Mohindra said: ‘I really enjoyed meeting the team at BHHHC and having a tour of the facilities and listening to their plans for the future.
‘The recent coronavirus pandemic has highlighted how important green space and exercise are to our communities. As the local MP I am looking forward to seeing sporting activity continue to grow for years to come.
‘I believe Berkhamsted School have stopped playing hockey due to a lack of viable facilities – I’m hoping there might be an opportunity for the club and the school to find a mutually beneficial solution in the near future.’
In April 2019, the Council identified a ‘gross insufficiency of compliant hockey pitches within Dacorum’, with there being only one AGP suitable for hockey activity and many older facilities needing refurbishment.
Access to local useable pitches has seriously impacted hockey in the area and England Hockey insight suggests this is due to a lack of suitable provision within Dacorum.
This new AGP would replace a disused grass pitch on the 11 acres of BHHHC’s land at the Cow Roast site and could also be used by other sports to make the space even more flexible than before.
The club already hosts community activities including rugby, football, dance, archery, and dog training on their facility and are proud to consider themselves a multisport community asset.
To support these seasonal multisport demands, the club’s strategy document includes the need for floodlighting to use the pitch all year round, but that has caused some opposition on issues around light spill and wildlife welfare.
However, the club have consulted sports lighting company, Musco Lighting Europe Ltd – whose clientele includes Premier League stadia, Wimbledon Centre Court and Twickenham Stadium – and they have designed directional lighting technology to minimise light spill and obtrusive light with the surrounding area in mind (see below).
Roger Macklin, BHHHC chairman, said: ‘Our proposals would use the latest LED technology that will significantly reduce the light spill and glare that currently occurs while improving the lighting for all sports.
‘This is a critical part of our proposal as it would allow us to optimise the use of the facility. We want this to be an asset for the community, not just the club.
‘We understand the objections, but many more people support the plans – including local schools and community sports clubs.’
BHHHC was established to provide facilities for and develop hockey in Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and the local area. The club calls for the council to pass the application and help more people get involved in sport and take up hockey.