Work has started to relocate Aston Villa’s training ground as part of the HS2 project.
It is set to be completed in September.
The multi million project at Bodymoor Heath, now known as the Recon Training Ground, is necessary because the £50 billion HS2 rail link is set to go through part of the site.
There were fears for the future of the complex, but principal contractor O’Brien has now started the work.
There will be nine natural pitches and one 3G pitch once the work is complete at the site near Tamworth.
WHAT THE CONTRACTOR HAS SAID
According to O’Brien, they will provide plateaus and associated works for the construction of the new pitches, which will be provided by other contractors.
The works include demolition, the forming of plateaus on site using site won and imported materials, the construction of a new haul road, drainage ditches, land drains, ponds and associated works.
O’Brien’s operations manager Tony Mitchell said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by Aston Villa to help relocate their new training facility.
“The HS2 scheme will have a major impact Locally and on the Recon training facility, which will lose a large portion of the current training ground. “The project is part of the greater plan to allow the football club to maintain existing facilities and replace those affected by HS2.
“We plan to make this transition as simple as possible for Aston Villa and help to create an outstanding new facility for them that will ensure the future of the training academy is not threatened by HS2.”
WHAT IS AFFECTED
According to the plans Villa have submitted, the idea is to move all the academy pitches and two first team pitches, which will be lost once construction of the high speed rail development begins.
The club also plans to replace car parking and service areas that will also be lost due to the development and have submitted plans to North Warwickshire Borough Council’s planning committee.
The design and access statement submitted with the applications read: “HS2 will have a devastation effect on Aston Villa Football Clubs integrated football academy and first team facilities that have been at Bodymoor Heath since the 1970s.
“As a direct result of this proposed work, the facility will physically lose three academy football pitches and all of its access and servicing infrastructure.
“The remaining academy pitches are blighted by noise. All academy pitches are required to be co-located for training or teaching.
“It is believed by the club advisors that some of the First Team playing surfaces, will also need to be relocated away from the anticipated noise affecting Speech Intelligibility.
“Therefore it is proposed to co-locate and replace all of the lost academy pitches and training areas and infrastructure on a portion of the former quarry land to the north of the site and the far side of Coneybury Wood.
“It is essential to the future of the football club that it retains its status and the quality of its First Team Facilities.”
Villa lodged a multi-million pound compensation claim last when they first discovered the News of the HS2 route.
The Aston Villa Academy in Bodymoor Heath is designated as a Category 1 Academy, which is the highest status awarded by the Football Association and Premier Football League governing body.
HS2 railway will pass directly through the south east corner of the facility and will be a major operational disruption for AVFC’s Academy and First Team.
The work is proposed to take place in two phases. The first concerns relocation the academy pitches together with diversion of private road and bridleway.
Phase two will include replacing two first team pitches and diverting an existing Bridleway along the section of the quarry road.
Up to 185 car parking spaces are also expected to be lost due to HS2 and these are also expected to be relocated under the plans.
Earlier this year it was reported that Villa were close to ‘finalising a solution’ with HS2 and have stated there was hope for a “positive outcome” soon concerning the compensation deal.
Late last year rail minister Paul Maynard MP visited Bodymoor Heath.
Constituency MP, Craig Tracey, organised the minister’s visit while Villa’s then CEO, Keith Wyness, and project director Shaun Darke gave him a tour of the training ground.
WHAT HS2 HAVE SAID
An HS2 Ltd spokesman previously said: “Approximately 10 per cent of Aston Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground is needed for phase one of the HS2 project.
“We are currently in negotiation with Aston Villa Football Club and are optimistic about finding a positive solution that works for the project and provides the club with the certainty they need to move forward.”
Source : BirminghamMail