Three major national sports associations back new £2 million pound facility in Stroud

Sport England, the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union have teamed up to back a new £1.8 million sports centre in Wotton-under-Edge, designed by Gloucestershire architects.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

A firm of Gloucestershire architects behind the famous ‘Sherlock Holmes house’ has revealed an exciting project to build a new sports facility in the county, which is already backed by Sport England, the FA and the RFU.

Those powerful governing bodies, plus private investors, have thrown their weight behind the plans to construct the New Barn project ­— sports pitches, a club house, community buildings, a studio and cafe, plus space for an annual music festival — in Wotton-under-Edge.

County architects Austin Design Works — which famously designed the stunning Swinhay House near North Nibley for the co-founder of Renishaw, Sir David McMurtry, and which featured in BBC One’s Sherlock series — has already has won planning permission for the stylish, low-impact wooden New Barn.

Matt Austin, senior architect at Austin Design Works, said: ‘We are no stranger to challenges. We have built numerous high spec bespoke houses, but I think what drew the attention of those behind the project here was the work we did at Minchinhampton Rugby Club.’

Anderson and his team, which is nine-strong and growing, won the work through a tender process with the charity behind the project, Wotton Community Sports Foundation.

‘We wanted a building which looked at home in a landscape which already has many wooden barns and farm buildings, but has all the benefits of a modern building,' said Austin.

‘We also wanted to incorporate as many of the clever environmentally-friendly features as we could, but we needed to be conscious this is a community project that the team behind it have to raise all of the money for.

‘We knew that using traditional materials and building methods as much as possible was the way forward, would make it easier to construct and keep costs down. So, there were a number of challenges of blending old with new.’

The New Barn will include solar panels generating enough electricity to meet the building’s energy needs, a high level of highly insulated, rainwater capture, a MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) system to provide continuous fresh air and air source heat pumps to provide heating and hot water.

Its clever features, low impact design and community focus have attracted the attention of The Architects’ Journal, which is running a technical architectural feature on the project.

Austin added: ‘Winning planning was a major gateway. Funding was in place, but they now have to reapply for some of that and raise the rest. But it means we can now look at the more detailed design.

‘If all goes to plan, building could start from mid-autumn, possibly October or November, but we hope to be on-site by at least early spring (2023).’

The New Barn will be built at Wotton Community PARC next to Katherine Lady Berkley School, a 38-acre site developed by Wotton Community Sports Foundation (WCSF) to provide sports and leisure facilities to Wotton and surrounding villages.

It is already home to two all-weather sports pitches, a running trail, skate park, Wotton-under-Edge Hockey Club, Wotton Rovers Football Club Junior section, Wotton Rugby Club, the town’s parkrun and is the venue for the annual Party in the PARC festival.

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