London 2012: £17.4m to upgrade sport facilities

Children at a school sports day
Image caption It is hoped the investments will attract more people into sport

More than £17m is being handed out to upgrade community sports facilities across England as part of the 2012 Olympic legacy.

The cash from Sport England is being invested in 350 clubs with the aim of boosting participation in sport.

It is the first round of handouts from the £52m Inspired Facilities fund.

Sport England's Richard Lewis said: "For hundreds of clubs and thousands of people, 2012 will be the year their local sports facilities got better."

This is the first of five funding rounds of Inspired Facilities, with the second round due to open on 1 February 2012, when sports groups can bid for a further £10m of funding.

Serious leaks

Mr Lewis said: "We've had unprecedented demand for this fund, which has really hit the mark with sports clubs. It shows we're offering the sporting legacy that people want."

Sport England hopes the investments will breathe new life into tired facilities that can be unattractive to sports participants and difficult to maintain and run.

Grants have also been offered to convert existing buildings into venues that are suitable for grassroots sport and to allow local clubs to buy the facilities they use.

Among the investments are:

• £46,000 to buy a permanent home for a boxing club in Oxford that was at risk of being closed down

• £28,000 to resurface two tennis courts at Windermere Lawn Tennis club where tree roots had made the existing courts unsafe

• £50,000 to replace the roof at Worcester Citizens' Swimming Pool which has a number of serious leaks that were threatening its future

• £50,000 to upgrade a 35-year-old clubhouse at Great Eccleston cricket club in Preston, including disabled access with changing and toilet facilities.

Sports and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: "We want to use the Olympic and Paralympics next summer to inspire a generation to get involved in sport across the country. This is why as part of the £135m Places People Play legacy programme we invited community sports clubs to apply for funding to upgrade their facilities."

Locog Chairman Seb Coe said: "This is a fantastic funding project that will deliver a real legacy from the London 2012 Games. It will provide a whole range of sporting opportunities for young people through improved facilities and will I hope inspire them to take up sport."

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