View plans for new sport and leisure facilities at school site

The proposed new site entrance (purple line) would link with the Morpeth Northern Bypass.
The proposed new site entrance (purple line) would link with the Morpeth Northern Bypass.

Plans for a new major community leisure provision at Morpeth’s high school will be unveiled to members of the public this afternoon.

The sport and leisure facilities, accessible for all, would be built on an area of land at the Cottingwood Lane site.

King Edward VI School in Morpeth, part of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, is unveiling its vision at Northumberland County Council’s Morpeth Masterplanning update and feedback event today. It will run from 2pm to 7pm.

Its representatives will be on hand during the drop-in at Morpeth Town Hall to provide residents with further information and answer any questions.

If successful, the joint venture between the trust and Northumberland County Council – with Sport England, The Football Foundation and local sports clubs – would include an indoor sports hall, changing facilities, meeting spaces, car parking, floodlit synthetic turf playing surfaces, playing fields and tennis courts, all accessed via a new road and site entrance.

Other schools and sports clubs in the area would also be able to access the facilities.

Simon Taylor, CEO of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, said: “We strongly believe this facility should be for the whole community, enabling us to facilitate a broad sport curriculum and significant extra-curricular activities, as well as providing a hub for local clubs and a sports centre for the growing local population.

“The King Edward VI School is one of very few secondary or high schools across the country that doesn’t have a sports hall.

“This is a legacy of our history as separate boys’ and girls’ schools, which means that we have a small boys’ gym and a small girls’ gym.

“Neither of these is fit to cater for the current size of the school and as a result PE lessons are also held in our dining halls, which drastically limits the type of sports we can offer.

“An additional benefit would be that the space currently used for indoor sport within the school would be released to enable the school to accept more students as the Morpeth population expands.”

“We want to consult with anyone affected to ensure the space caters for the needs of all community users.

“These facilities are not intended to replace or compete with other local sporting facilities, but to complement them.

“We are a school first and foremost, and providing quality education remains our priority.”

Joe Evans is originally from Pennsylvania in the USA, but has lived in the Morpeth area for the last 40 years and would welcome a multi-use sports facility at KEVI where his three sons, the youngest of which is now 23, attended school.

He said: “My kids live in the area and my grandkids will hopefully go to The King Edward VI School and use the facility. I don’t want them to face the same issues that my children did in not having a school sports hall.

“I see this as a long-term thing. I think it will be welcomed by the community in general – Morpeth deserves an investment in leisure facilities for the community.”

KEVI student Emily Henderson, 17, said of the proposal: “It would encourage more participation in sport, which is good for a healthy lifestyle.”

Morpeth residents can also email their views on the proposal to kevi@the3rivers.net