A major regeneration scheme costing around £330,000 will see an area of Moss Side transformed into Leyland’s ‘next Worden Park.’
A huge project to create a children’s play area, sports pavilion, football and rugby pitches, a large car park and cycle, bridle and walkways is gathering pace.
Community groups bidding for funding to redevelop the Moss Side Playing Fields into an open space set to rival Leyland’s main park, have already been successful in attracting large pots of cash, and they have now revealed that the first lot of work is set to be complete by the end of the year.
Leyland Warriors Rugby Club is the main player behind the ambitious plans.
Chairman Phil Roberts said: “The scheme will really improve the facility for the existing users of the fields, like the rugby teams, the horse riding club and the anglers, but it will also help to boost use by other groups, such as cyclists, football clubs, dog walkers and families.
“The aim is to make the area more accessible to everyone, and with plans now in place for a children’s play area to be built next year, Moss Side could become just as well used as Worden Park.
“It will be the kind of place where families come to spend the day.”
At the moment, the site suffers from drainage problems, insufficient car parking provision, and poor sporting
The idea to make the much-needed improvements came about in February this year, when it was proposed through the Leyland My Neighbourhood Forum that the rugby club should be handed the reins to attract funding.
The rugby club signed a 25-year lease with South Ribble Council to take on the responsibility for improving the site in March.
Since then, the proposals have really progressed and funding has recently been secured from Sport England to create two new sport pitches at the site, in addition to the two existing ones, meaning that football clubs will also be able to use the facilities in future.
Mr Roberts hopes the improvements for the rugby teams can be implemented by March, and for the football pitches, by next September’s season.
That part of the project has cost £49,000, and the next major job is to gain funding to expand the car park, at an estimated cost of £7,000, and build a new sports pavilion next year, costing a massive £250,000. Mr Roberts said: “The football pitches collapsed last year because of poor drainage, and the Leyland Tigers Junior Football Club had to leave Moss Side and start playing at Worden Park.
“We’re hoping to be able to invite them back, as well as attracting other teams to the site, by September next year.
“The huge challenge for 2014 will be the sports pavilion.
“We have two changing rooms serving 12 teams at the moment, and it’s very difficult.
“We also need more car parking, because there are sometimes 130 cars here at the weekend, and there are only 26 spaces.
“A lot of people park on the grass, which causes damage, or on nearby streets.
“Expanding the car park will reduce the amount of green space, but it will create a real benefit in the long-term for protecting the wildlife.
“We’re hoping for 60 spaces, which will go some way to keeping our neighbours happy, and it will make a massive difference to the users of the site.”
He added: “We are also in the process of drawing up a funding bid for a new children’s play area, so that the brothers and sisters of the football and rugby players have somewhere safe and enjoyable to play during matches.
“It will also make Moss Side a place where families want to come, and I’m confident we will have that part of the project finished by spring next year.”
“I’m really pleased it’s all going so well,” he added. “There are a number of projects going on at once which is the key to getting things moving quickly.
“We don’t want to miss out on any opportunities. This is really going to benefit the community as a whole.”
Another group which is attracting funding and pushing for improvements in the area, which is off Moss Side Way, is the Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association.
Members have been successful in collecting a number of grants, worth £25,000, to make paths around the site fit for purpose.
Chairman Sue Taylor-Green said: “Getting that money was a major step forward for us, because it means we can improve the bridleways path as well as the footpaths, which were in a bad state of repair.
“That will benefit all users of the park, including dog walkers and cyclists.
“We’re hoping to complete that work by the end of November, and after that our plan is to try to get more funding to extend all of the paths around the fields, so that a loop is created around the site.”
She added: “Things really seem to be gathering pace now for the whole project.
“It sometimes takes years for this type of thing to take off, but I think once you get started and get one pot of funding, more follows because people see that it is a really viable and worthwhile scheme, and they want to support that.”