WORK has started on a £244,000 state-of-the-art all-weather sports pitch at Potterne Park in Verwood.

Construction is likely to last for nine weeks, at the end of which there will be a new 65m by 40m synthetic turf pitch to replace the existing grass training area which has been unusable in the winter before, as it became waterlogged.

The new pitch will provide a five-a-side and football and rugby training facility built to football’s FIFA two-star standards and the rugby IRB Regulation 22 standards.

New floodlighting and drainage will enable the pitch to be used all year round. The facility will be maintained and run by the Verwood Arts and Leisure Association, which is based at the Hub.

East Dorset District Council is acting as a consultant for the design and tendering through to completion of the work.

The contract for the synthetic grass pitch, along with floodlighting, drainage and fencing, will be carried out by S&C Slatter Ltd. Funding for the pitch is coming from the Verwood Developer Contribution Fund.

This project is the second part of a wider scheme which will see “new and improved” sporting facilities in Verwood to replace the leisure centre, which is being redeveloped as supermarket Morrisons expands. The first part of the scheme will be the construction of a new sports hall at Emmanuel School, which has already started. The final part is a new gym extension at the Hub, which will start to be built soon. Cllr Peter Richardson, East Dorset member for Three Cross and Potterne, said: “I am delighted that this much-needed facility is soon to be installed and I’m confident it will be of great value to the local community.”