Southampton City Council is consulting on a plan for this disused sports field behind St Marks CE School. Under these plans, most of the field would be laid out for school sports pitches for team games, with fencing around the edge. A space near the entrance to the field from Malmesbury Rd would be set aside for a future children’s play area once additional funding becomes available. The consultation period closes on 5 June 2013.
A group of local residents have come together to prepare an alternative plan, to create an option which would be accessible to the wider community including public open space as well as secure school playing fields. This includes a proposal to divert the existing footpath which runs along the back of the school. Instead, the footpath would run from Stafford Rd entrance, along the rear of Suffolk Avenue houses and cross the field to join up with the currently closed access point onto Malmesbury Rd. This would not only create a safer space by giving two access points to the field, but also means the school buildings would no longer be divided from their playing fields by two lines of fences. A copy of the plan can be found on the Friends of the Field website http://www.communityhub.info/
There is interest in developing a small building on the site too, to accommodate local sports-coaching company Team Spirit and provide a cafe and soft play area. The company is entering the Tough Mudder competition to raise awareness of this sports ground and generate some sponsorship money to reinvest in the field http://www.teamspirit4sport.co.uk/shirley-civil-service-ground-
Southampton Spitfires Rugby League Club has also expressed interest in making the field their base, so the club can grow and be used by players of all ages.
Councillor Dave Shields is leading a Working Group to explore all these options in more detail. Send your comments to the Council and also leave a reply here or on the Friends of the Field Facebook group. Together we can make sure that we make the most of this field for local school children and the residents of Shirley.