New look for sports ground is unveiled

St Helens Star: A computer-generated image of how Ruskin Drive sports village could look A computer-generated image of how Ruskin Drive sports village could look

AMBITIOUS plans to create a 21st century ‘sports village’ on the site of an ageing recreational ground have been unveiled.

Designs for the new-look Ruskin Drive sports ground have been submitted to St Helens Council’s planning department.

The council wants to breathe new life into the sports fields and pitches that it took control of in 2010.

In its heyday the Dentons Green site – created as part of Pilkington Glass’s social and leisure network – was a top class sports venue.

While it remains a vital hub for community junior and amateur action there is an acceptance within the council that it is dated, a point which registered with the former St Helens Council leader Marie Rimmer on a visit to a sports festival there several years ago.

Key proposals include the construction of a new pavilion as a centrepiece of the site to provide changing, training and squash courts.

The local authority, which has submitted the plans, hopes it will give a huge boost to sports such as cricket, both codes of rugby, football, tennis and squash.

Planning documents state that the current artificial football pitch would be replaced by a third generation surface and includes a stand, providing facilities that could potentially see St Helens Town football club re-homed after spending several years playing outside the borough.

A third generation rugby league pitch for the use of Pilkington Recs is also planned, as the development is expected to be partly funded by a compensatory package from private companies who aim to build on the club’s former City Road home.

Other new facilities include all-weather cricket nets and the revival of the former tennis courts, which are presently dilapidated.

The neighbouring former Queens Park school playing fields site will also provide small-sided grass football pitches.

A new 150-space car park and access road would also be created, with a further 146 spaces available on the school land.

A consultation process is now open, and the proposals will need to secure planning consent if it is to go ahead.

Ruskin Drive’s social club and fitness centre – which is owned by private company Ruskinvest – would continue to operate independently of the council’s plans.

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