Archery club submits Â£70,000 plans to improve facilities for disabled athletes
Archers have their sights set on spending up to Â£70,000 on new facilities - with the aim of helping disabled shooters and helping their club thrive.
Cleadon Archers, established in 1949 and the oldest such club in Durham and Northumberland, wants to lay new access paths, hardstanding areas and build a disabled toilet at its base behind Boldon Cricket Club, in East Boldon.
Officials say wheelchair users are being inadvertently discriminated against because existing walkways are potentially dangerous to them and the on-site toilet, inside the cricket club, is outdated and unsuitable for access.
In May South Tyneside Council planners rejected the club’s first development application, which included constructing two disabled toilets.
Members returned to the drawing board and have now submitted amended plans which include just one toilet.
Club secretary Peter Davies, 67, a retired teacher, said: “Archery is possibly the only sport where disabled people can compete on equal terms. As a club, we are currently thriving and have attracted many new members, but we want more.
“We have two members who are disabled. Neither uses a wheelchair, but we can’t currently easily accommodate anyone who does.
“We will carry on as a club if this application doesn’t get approved, but we will feel like we are being pushed into discriminating.
“Our aim by improving our facilities is to encourage disabled people to join us.”
He added: “Following the refusal of our application we met with the council’s planners, who seemed quite positive about what we are trying to do. We have amended our plans and hope this will lead to acceptance.”
The club has seen a recent boom in membership and now has around 100 archers aged from nine.
Members, who include some on the Great Britain Training Squad, also benefit from indoor practise sessions at Boldon Community Association.
Planning for the project started three years ago with funding for it coming from a Sport England Inspired facilities grant.
Work must start by October.
The club’s plans to improve hardstanding areas will include the shooting line from where archers fire at their target.
People have until Friday, August 17 to comment on the plans.