Improvements needed in leisure

The Maltings Theatre and Cinema, Berwick
The Maltings Theatre and Cinema, Berwick

A WIDE range of sport, art and leisure provision is available in Morpeth, but improvements are needed.

The Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan group responsible for investigating the issue has carried out an audit of clubs and facilities to assess provision.

And it has found that while a broad range of activities is available across the age groups, quality of facilities is variable and a more joined-up approach would be helpful.

The Riverside Leisure Centre is considered dated and the pool is not up to the required specification for competitions, while there are access restrictions due to local club use.

In Carlisle Park, there are high-quality bowling greens, but the four tennis courts are not well maintained and two are currently out of use. Further investment is also needed at the BMX track at Morpeth Common.

Morpeth Rugby Club is highlighted as a shining example for sport, with recent improvements to facilities and the provision of coaching and matches from under sevens to senior men and women’s teams, with well-established links throughout.

However, there is no meaningful relationship between Morpeth Town AFC and community junior football and its facilities are isolated and poorly signposted.

Morpeth Sporting Club has large playing numbers, but no specific home base or changing facilities.

In Pegswood, a masterplan for the park will be drawn up that will see further development of playing and training facilities, the transfer of five-a-side provision, development of a skatepark and better use of the pavilion, as well as potential expansion of facilities to the west of the site. For art and performance in Morpeth, there are facilities at King Edward VI School, St George’s Church Hall and Morpeth Town Hall, but they are not considered ideal due to issues such as capacity, viewing, changing facilities and location.

It has been suggested that a new theatre and arts centre should be developed, similar to the Maltings at Berwick, which could accommodate drama, music and dance performances, film screenings and other arts activities.

Topic group Chairman Graeme Trotter said: “I have been really impressed by the number of people who have got involved in the Plan and the time they have spent in sharing their expertise. There has been some real quality stuff coming out. We have now got something that people can get their teeth into and it is absolutely paramount that they get involved.

“Hopefully, people will complete the more detailed questionnaire online, read the background documents and give us their opinions. There is no right or wrong answers, this is their Plan.”

Options

l Improve sports and leisure facilities and actively encourage more ‘joined-up’ partnerships.

l Create a modern theatre/arts centre for performance of drama, music, dance and film.