A POSSIBLE new site for one of the borough’s leading sports clubs must remain open to the entire community, a council chief has warned.
Coun Iain Malcolm says any redevelopment of the now-closed Brinkburn Comprehensive School must see it maintain its community links.
The site is among those being considered by the South Shields & Westoe Club for a possible multi-million pound ground move.
Club bosses say they must switch from their historic site in Wood Terrace, Westoe, to larger premises if they are to progress.
But the possible move has raised concerns that a community centre and swimming pool at Brinkburn would go.
Coun Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, told a meeting at South Shields Town Hall that the community facilities must be maintained.
He said: “The club, in order to advance, does need to move from its current location.
“One of the sites it has identified is Brinkburn, but we want to see Brinkburn maintained as a sports facility for the community.
“If the South Shields & Westoe Club did move, the facilities would have to be used by the whole community.”
He added: “We want to see the creation of a new sports academy, if through negotiation and consultation that can be decided.”
He was responding to questions by Real Independent Coun George Elsom, whose Cleadon ward includes the Brinkburn site.
Coun Elsom has previously said he fears the community centre and the recently refurbished pool may be sacrificed to accommodate the club’s plans.
Coun Malcolm said only “initial” talks had been held between the council and the club.
Last month, the Gazette revealed how the club had appointed Newcastle-based builder Bellway as its preferred developer of its Westoe site.
It is believed that Bellway would look to build houses on the ground, where cricket has been played since 1868 and rugby since the 1870s.
There is also a tennis section which formed in 1880, and squash courts, which opened in 1980.
Club chiefs say the ground is now too small for its cricket and rugby teams to share, and that moving to a bigger site is essential.
It is believed the Brinkburn location could accommodate a new cricket-only field and at least two rugby pitches.
The council’s new Local Development Framework concedes that the club’s current site is suitable for a housing development.
The document, which outlines possible building developments, says some community or leisure provision, such as recreational space, would be retained at Wood Terrace.