A BOLD new vision for the future of the national football centre near Burton could see a raft of new facilities built, creating hundreds of new jobs and pumping millions into the economy, the Mail can exclusively reveal.
Bosses at St George’s Park have outlined details of their masterplan for the first time as part of a bid to ‘harness the success’ of the £105 million site, which opened less than two years ago.
Proposals for the future include the building of an elite golf academy, a sport business campus, an extension of the on-site Hilton hotel and car park, a new 150-bed hostel for youth teams attending the site and a host of new pitches.
The move could lead to the creation of 300 jobs at the football centre and 80 in the surrounding area as a result of the anticipated multi-million pound investment.
Peter West, St George’s Park project manager, spoke to the Mail about the ‘exciting’ plans.
He said: “We have to respond to the success that the football centre has had since it opened.
“This masterplan allows us to act on the operational needs of St George’s Park and make sure we are not standing still, and taking advantage of the progress that we have made.
“We have to evolve, take notice of our surroundings and ensure that we are financially sustainable – this is one of our key objectives.
“The plans have also had to be developed to fit in to the ethos of St George’s Park.”
The decision to push forward with the plans comes as the centre continues to enjoy unprecedented success. St George’s Park has now hosted close to 1,900 conferences and regularly enjoys 70 per cent occupancy. Members of the public were invited to view and comment on the plans yesterday, as well as parish councillors.
Mr West added: “We had a good response from the people who came along and we will take their views on board.”
He said that some of the proposals respond to an effort by the centre to align itself with the Football Association.
“This means we want to work towards training more and more coaches,” said Mr West.
“This is why we need more pitches to facilitate this need.
“More pitches will also help us to continue our efforts to allow the community to use St George’s Park, like they have done since we opened.”
While keen to stress the proposals were in the very early stages, Mr West said it was a ‘bright day’ for Burton and St George’s Park.
THE plans for the national football centre could see the possible development of an elite golf academy.
Alongside a plethora of other potential changes, from more hotel rooms and improving pitchside facilities, centre chiefs have outlined proposals for the National Centre for Golf, which would feature a nine-hole course, driving range and short game area.
This would be supplemented by a pavilion that would provide accommodation for those using the academy.
Project manager Peter West said the plans formed part of an effort to make the site ‘more attractive’ to other sports outside of football.
He said: “We already have a lot of interest from other sports such as rugby, and an elite golf academy would help supplement that.
“We would want it to be a centre of excellence for golf, where people can come and learn the game and also how to coach the game.
“They would also be able to use all the facilities associated with St George’s Park while at the site.”
The bid to open up the site to more and more people could also see the creation of a sport business campus.
The 10,250 sq m site would provide facilities for sports-related firms who work with St George’s Park.
It is said this could boost employment figures in the area, as well as the local economy.
Five new pitches would also be constructed alongside new changing units, a lodge for use by athletes in need of long-term rehabilitation from injury and spectator seating to allow people to view games.
THE next steps for St George’s Park will be to collate the feedback from residents and councillors following the publication of the plans.
This will see the masterplan amended before further talks are held with East Staffordshire Borough Council and consultees to finalise the development proposals before the end of the month.
It is expected that the development plan will be submitted to the borough council by August for councillors to rule on around the middle of September.
It is hoped the development brief will be approved by the end of September, and preparation for individual planning applications as a result of the masterplan can then begin from the start of next year.
The aim of the masterplan is to ‘build on the existing economic benefits by seizing appropriate opportunities that have been identified for the development that are aligned to the vision of St George’s Park and the borough council’s local plan’.
The plan could also see the car park extended to help with a space shortage, with 77 new slots earmarked.
Sixty new hotel rooms could also be created to meet the demand witnessed during the first couple of years since St George’s Park opened.
A new reservoir could be put in to provide additional water supplies.
The youth hostel will provide space for 150 youngsters and offer up a ‘community and team-building’ environment.
New statistics have shown that 350 jobs have been created as a result of the opening of St George’s Park.
The site has an annual wage bill of £10 million and an expenditure of £15 million.
It welcomed 14,000 football coaches in its first year and played host to 89 domestic and international clubs.
It has offered more than 70 different courses and will train more than 800 elite coaches every single year.
A total of 231 community teams have also used the facilities at the site.