We have been sitting on some very big news for some time, but had to wait for a few things to fall into place before being able to share anything. Thankfully we are now able to tell everyone!
FAW Facilities Grant
Back in January we started applying for an FAW grant which was aimed at helping grassroots clubs improve facilities. We were hoping to apply for approx £20k to purchase some basic changing rooms in order to get The Athletic up and running as soon as possible. These are the cheapest ones available and we hoped it was an achievable amount.
As with all grant applications, it was very thorough and required a lot of information from us. One of the things needed was planning permission, or at least discussions with the planning department to approve what the funding would be for. This is where things got tricky!
The planning department weren’t happy with these basic changing rooms. As The Athletic is in a conservation area, we were told they needed to look better than just a storage container. We got a quotation for the changing rooms that would satisfy the council, these came in at around £140,000!!
As you can imagine this killed our hopes of getting changing rooms as obviously there is no way on earth we would be able to raise that sort of money! With the deadline for the grant application approaching, rather than not send anything in, we thought it best to just ask for the £140k anyway and have them laugh at us and tell us no.
At the end of February I received the best E-mail I have ever received in my life:-
The grant offer letter from the FAW!!!
The FAW absolutely saved us!! They agreed to give us the requested funds with us contributing 10% (£14k) ourselves which is what we put in our application. As you can imagine we couldn't believe it, I still cant actually! We are so thankful and grateful to them for giving us the chance to complete our Home!
Although we had this offer, it was on the proviso that we secure planning permission from the council. I looked at doing this myself and it didn't take long to realise we would need help!
Also we needed to pay for the planning application. The cost is based on the floor area, and because of the size of the changing rooms it meant that our planning application cost was close to £1000!
Planning Application - Active Merthyr and George and Co Ltd to the rescue!
We turned to Active Merthyr for help, who have been a massive help to us throughout this project. Dan was absolutely amazing as usual and said they would help us find the planning costs and he also found us a consultant to carry out the application on our behalf.
George & Co Ltd agreed to carry out our application for us, including the creation of the required drawings and plans, all free of charge! Steven George was absolutely brilliant and didnt mess about getting it all sorted and our application submitted!
Without these people we would not have got our planning application in and we are very grateful for their amazing help!
The application process takes between 8-12 weeks, and knowing that receiving the £140k depended on it, made it feel like a year!!
We are absolutely delighted to say that today we received FULL PLANNING PERMISSION!!!!
We have informed the FAW so hopefully we can now get the funds released and get the changing rooms on order. It has seemed like forever since being awarded the funds in February to finally receiving planning permission in June, but we've made it!!
The Changing Rooms - and other twists!!
Since we submitted our grant application in January the world has gone absolutely mad, and unfortunately prices have rocketed. Our changing rooms havent avoided this, and we found out last month that they have gone up approx £20k!! We have been very busy all year trying to raise funds through our own fundraising, and I have also applied for a number of other grants to make up this shortfall. We are hopeful to receive some news very soon on a couple of these grants and will continue to carry out our own fundraising in the meantime. We have again had a lot of support from Active Merthyr and our local Councillor Gareth Richards, and there is no way we wont reach our goal now and complete this project!! (If anyone is interested in sponsoring the club or making a donation to help please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Anyway back to the exciting stuff!!
The changing rooms we will be having are a great size to accomodate our home team, away team and referee. Also because we have mixed teams we wanted to make sure our changing rooms have a secure place for both the boys and girls to be able to use at the same time. There are a couple of smaller changing rooms within where people can change privately so this should satisfy everyones needs.
The plans and elevations of our changing rooms
A closer look at the 3D layout
From the point of order it will take approximately 14 weeks for the units to be delivered to the ground. They will then be put together and installed over a few days.
In this 14 week period we need to install services and foundations and also get the rest of the ground ready. This will mean that once the changing rooms are delivered and installed we will be ready to start using The Athletic immediately which is very exciting!!
All that will be left to do then is to hopefully get tarmac laid on the car park and access ramps, which we hope we can get help with.
Over the past couple of the months the pitch works we had carried out back in April have really started to show its worth. The new grass has shot up the last month and it is looking so much better! There are only a couple more cuts to be carried out by Lewis James Playing Surfaces to get it down to the correct playing length and then it will be back over to us to maintain.
Progress picture of the pitch over the last few weeks
All the hard work is finally starting to pay off and things are finally falling into place. We still have a lot of work to do over the next few months, but our target of starting the 2022/23 season on The Athletic is getting more and more realistic which is absolutely amazing!!
We will be asking for help in the coming months off anyone that would be interested in helping us carry out the final touches with painting, weeding, clearing brambles etc.
We will obviously continue to provide updates as we go along.
Together we can finish this project and give our 200 kids a home, and all future generations of Treharris Athletic Western Mini & Junior Football Club!
Thanks for reading! KJ