Local support clinches bid

April 24, 1998

The National Lottery has made awards worth Pounds 76 million to higher education projects. The THES lists winners to date, examines how grants have been won and looks at the overseas experience

An initial lottery grant of Pounds 7.5 million to the University of East Anglia was doubled when the university rallied the local community behind the project.

Relatively modest plans for a university swimming pool were accepted by the Sports Lottery Board in June 1997. After consultation with the local council and community groups, however, the project was scrapped in favour of a much more ambitious bid, for a community-based East Anglian Sports Park with an Olympic-size pool as the centrepiece.

Last month, the UEA heard that it had won Pounds 14.6 million of lottery cash for its Pounds 17.7 million plans - the fourth largest grant from the Sports Lottery Fund.

Luck was on UEA's side. Norwich has no swimming pool and poor sports facilities. "Norwich had been identified as an area in dire need of sports facilities," said Lynn Cutress, the sports park campaign manager and head of alumni relations at UEA. The plan put forward was aimed at rectifying the situation, she said.

Norwich City Council was making a rival bid to build a much-needed local pool, but the council was persuaded to defer its plans and team up with the university to create the "Norwich Swimming forum" to "develop a strategy for swimming" in the city.

This cooperation was crucial. "The Sports Lottery has praised the innovative concept of a sports park that serves the university and the community," said Keith Nicholls, director of physical education at UEA. Doug Underwood, chair of leisure and community services at Norwich City Council, said, "This is thanks to the way in which the university and the city council have worked together."

The sports park, next to the county athletics track, will include a "human performance laboratory", a training centre for coaches, the region's biggest sports hall, a climbing wall, a fitness centre, squash courts, cr che, cafe and a bar when it opens in 2000.

"There was a great deal of community support," Ms Cutress said. "The bid included more than half a million pounds of community financial support. Many small, individual donations were balanced by charitable and sponsorship pledges from Norwich's corporate community. It was a case of the sum of the parts proving greater than the whole."

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