Sports Ground Case Study

Fethard Town Park

The £2.5m Fethard Town Park project, to develop a 26 acre site, was a direct response to an identified deficit in recreational facilities and a need to address social and health-related issues in Fethard and the wider region. The scope of work included; 1. Groundworks 2. Pitches 3. Walkways 4. Carpark 5. Ancillary works Ie fencing, ballnetting. The facility contains two full size, multi-use, floodlit pitches, one 4G all-weather surface and one grass pitch, a training pitch. A pavilion building with a multipurpose hall, dressing rooms, gym, clubhouse with a spectator viewing terrace, a floodlit running/walking trail, a sensory garden, outdoor gym equipment and open woodland. The development also included a carpark, mounding and landscaping and an Electricity Supply Board Infrastructure upgrade for the town. Tony Patterson Sports Grounds were appointed through a tendering process. The contract was awarded only when considerable research into TPS's previous projects had been undertaken, with an emphasis on 'Quality of Build'. 'Life Cycle Costing' of the overall project was reviewed due to the high-spec-systems and best quality materials TPS had recommended for use.

A tried and tested world class facility

We've been in the business for over 40 years but in all that time we've never faced an opponent like the one we encountered on the fields at Fethard Park. We were quite literally in danger of being 'killed by kindness'. Imagine all the good intentions, the donations pouring into an ever-increasing funding pot. Imagine the joy of the buyers, telling us they could afford the upgrades for 4G surfacing, the extra 3000 meters of drainage swales or the new smart lighting systems. Now imagine the headache of having to reengineer and reinvent new methodologies to integrate all those changes into an already ongoing project, often on weekly basis. I'm proud to say we survived and we delivered. How could we not? When you meet decent people who want to keep on giving, how can you do anything less.

Expertise and local knowledge of developing 3G all weather pitches in the area was researched and references from previous works, including Clarisford Park, Killaloe and specifically, the University of Limerick were also taken into account. The first full size floodlit 4G Pitch in Tipperary is now located in Fethard Town Park in addition to a full size Grass Floodlit Pitch and sand based training area. Both the 4G and grass pitch are lined for Rugby and GAA. The system for 'Changing code' in day to day use, for both the artificial grass and natural grass pitches, required the use of longer life Fieldturf, for the artificial grass surface installation. Retractable goalposts were sourced for ease of installation to allow for faster 'code changes' between fixtures, and a unique LED floodlighting system was designed and erected to reduce light spillage into neighbouring properties.

A car-park was constructed with sustainable urban drainage which also now serves the adjacent national school to reduce congestion and improve safety for the local school kids. Fethard Town Park is now used extensively by the local community for walking/running, dog walking and is a great outdoor amenity space, with multigenerational internal spaces for the local community to meet. The project was partly funded by the Magnier foundation. Allowances had to be factored in to allow for heavily restricted working conditions during the Covid pandemic. The work was undertaken during one of the wettest winter periods on record, causing the water table to rise significantly. As a result, specialist LGP machines were introduced to in order to avoid compromising the project timelines. Because the existing site had more than 10 metres of difference in elevation from end to end. 40,000 tons of earthworks material had to be moved first to create the new pitch platforms. Following Covid, an accelerated program was introduced in order to get the park open and available for the community as early as possible. 7,000m of new piped drainage along with 15,000 meters of slit drains and a sand soil pitch profile were installed to create a free draining surface, allowing for vastly improved playing conditions during the winter months Banks were regraded with drainage swales, connected to the pitch drainage, to form part of the required storm-water attenuation. Initially, budget limitations proved very limiting, and value engineering was undertaken across the project so that priority works could begin. However because fund raising efforts were continuing and indeed gathering momentum, while the project was underway, the goal posts, quite literally, kept moving. The scope of work increased and diversified as different elements were introduced from an ever increasing wish list as more funding became available. TPS proved that they were flexible and capable of successfully evolving methodologies & sequencing, often on a weekly basis, in order to meet client requirements across the entire project without compromising the timeline or the final outcome.

Major impacts of the development of Fethard Town Park relate to the employment opportunities created throughout the construction and operational phase, exchequer benefits and wider impacts relating to inclusivity and return on investment.

As a Greenfield site, impact on the general public and local communities during the construction of Phase 1 was negligible.

The Build was Archaeologically monitored as the site is within an area of historical significance.

Socially, the park is a valuable resource for the local population to utilise as a community asset. The Facility  is open and accessible to all, regardless of nationality or ethnicity

The development supported existing local trades and contractors. And made a positive contribution to local economy throughout the development and operational phases.

It  contributes to the achievement of wider economic goals established for the area as set out in local and regional policy documents.

Supporting training/apprentice opportunities by targeting those on low incomes and with lower skill levels, thus helping to tackle unemployment in the longer-term.

Supporting the construction industry as important components of the local economy.

It has enabled a new weekly Park Run by the community as the results of safe, accessible walkways
The Park is attended by approximately 2500 users per week

It has provided direct construction jobs over the construction period In addition to additional indirect jobs within the supply chain during the construction phase.

Today Fethard Town Park is the Regional Centre of Excellence for Munster Rugby and is home to Fethard GAA & Fethard RFC. It is also used by local primary and secondary schools, youth groups and active elderly groups as a venue for sport, wellness activities, events and learning.

The development has recently been cited as, ‘An example of how health and wellbeing can be promoted and developed, when an engaged community is supported by local enterprise, local authority and funding bodies’.

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