A £470,000 project to create state-of-the-art football pitches and changing rooms has moved a significant step closer.
The saga surrounding the playing fields at Spring Lane dates back more than 18 months and has been held up recently by a dispute over flooding between Malvern Hills District Council which owns the site and Network Rail, which owns neighbouring land supporting the railway line.
Newtown Sports Junior Football Club is hoping to secure a long-term lease on the plot but the deal cannot be agreed until the matter is resolved.
But last week, in response to questions from the Observer, a spokesman from Network Rail suggested the organisation had finally reached a resolution with the council.
He said the problem was caused by heavy rainfall forcing debris including bricks, to flow down from a nearby ditch and block a culvert which allows the water to pass underneath the railway line.
The spokesman said Network Rail cleared the debris from the culvert and had replaced a damaged grill but debris still went over the culvert and was now blocking a pipe on the east side of the track which was on council land and not its responsibility.
Sandra Hudson, the district council’s estates and facilities manager, said Worcestershire County Council would actually be clearing the spot because the debris had been washed downstream from land owned by them.
But the authority was not able to confirm this itself at the time of going to print.
The playing fields have recently come under the spotlight due to recent rainfall causing parts of the site, including parking spaces next to the new unused pavilion, to become visibly flooded.
John Blewitt, chair of Malvern Hills Green Party, has been one to criticise the district council over the latest hold up.
He said: “The field was used extensively by local residents and there has been considerable anger about the way it has been left. The whole area has been a mess lately.
“It is like a broken window scenario, if people see it is not looked after it is an invitation for others not to care about the area.
“A lot of public money has been spent on this and so far there has been no benefit to anybody.”
Further concerns had been raised about temporary fencing put up at the site, but the district council confirmed it was only in place to protect two mini-football pitches during a 12 month growing period and would be removed afterwards.
A spokesman from The Football Foundation which has invested £325,000 in the project, has also denied the organisation had requested the council to install a permanent fence around the field, in response to speculation from some residents.