Volunteers campaigning for new sports centre in Winchester

Just one of the many designs for a new sports centre at Bar End. Picture by Studio Four Architects.

Another option. Picture by Studio Four Architects.

First published in Winchester Andover Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

WINCHESTER volunteers are campaigning for community funding for new sports facilities.

Fit for the Future, which wants to promote Winchester’s Olympic legacy, has spent over two years developing a proposal for a new sports centre at Bar End, next to the existing athletics track.

Now the group wants to raise money in support of their ideas, with the campaign launched on Sunday, July 27, at midnight - the two-year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic ceremony. It’s aptly named 2012 hours, and will last just as long, finishing at 8pm on October 19, 83 days and 20 hours later.

Emma Back, campaign coordinator, said: “Winchester loves sport, and we're determined to secure its future here. The facilities we build now will serve this area for 50 years or more, so we've got to get it right.”

The new centre would include a 50 metre community pool which can vary in depth, a large sports hall, a gymnastics and trampolining facility, climbing wall, indoor running strips and jump area for athletics, and spectator seating for the existing track, and would mean abandoning River Park.

The Gordon Road centre has been at the forefront of controversial expansion plans, which has opinions divided.

Winchester-born pop-star Frank Turner attended the Save the Rec event in May, which protested against the loss of open space there.

Fit for the Future wants to create a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics by creating sustainable and accessible community sports facilities.

Cllr Jan Warwick, sports portfolio holder at Winchester City Council, said: “We’re keen to deliver the best sports facilities we can for the people of Winchester, but cost is clearly an issue. Local people are tackling this head-on, which is great to see.”

The campaign is run online, using social networking site Twitter, with sport-inspired poetry and photographic competitions.

There will also be a silent auction, online donations, and a ‘Winchester Come Dine with Me’ event.

For more information go to 2012hours.org.

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