A new changing pavilion was officially opened recently (Wednesday 19 September), marking the completion of a multi-million pound regeneration project at Hackney Marshes. The project was made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

Working in partnership with the Football Foundation, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and other funders, Hackney Council have overhauled the facilities at one of the largest grassroots football sites in Europe. 
The project works have included: partial levelling, drainage and reconfiguration of 10 grass pitches, installation of three new changing pavilions with the capacity to hold 46 teams, and a new state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). 
The new changing pavilion has replaced facilities next to Cow Bridge, off Mandeville Road, which were no longer fit for purpose and did not meet the required guidelines and regulations. In addition to this, the new all-weather pitch has been installed with floodlights, enabling increased capacity and availability thanks to it being usable during the evening. 
Hackney Marshes is widely considered the home of grassroots football with more than 60 football pitches, the greatest concentration anywhere in Europe. It also has 10 cricket pitches and three rugby pitches.  
Hackney Council were awarded a £1.9m grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The council worked alongside the Football Foundation and London County FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation. 
Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 328 grants worth £24.1m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £55.1m across the whole of London County FA. 
It is expected that regeneration will contribute to nearly 3,000 new people playing football at Hackney Marshes, which represents a growth of 257%. Of this, it is predicted that over 600 new female players will start playing football at the site, which reflects a 1,366% rise within this demographic.

Bruce Cruse, ECB Head of Participation, said: “The new pavilion and cricketing facilities at Hackney Marshes will empower local communities to have the opportunity to play the game in a way and at times that suits them.

“Our South Asian Action Plan includes a commitment to providing access to cricketing facilities in urban areas across the country and projects like this are a key part of our plans to grow the game, get a bat and ball in more hands and ensure that cricket is a sport that is accessible for everyone.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grassroots sport plays an important role in communities across the UK, creating opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. That is why I am delighted that Hackney Council has now opened their regeneration project at Hackney Marshes, thanks to investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.

“Continuing to improve access to high-quality facilities like this one is a key aim for the Premier League, The FA and the Government. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding supports projects for clubs and organisations all over the country and is helping to boost the number of people benefiting from sport through better facilities.

“Grassroots football provides so many benefits for members of the community, not least of which is the opportunity to enjoy themselves. Love for our national game, something that can be found across the country, is an integral part of what drives the Foundation and its Funding Partners to keep increasing the standards and quality of our facilities.”