Natural Pitch Constructions 

Run by a small, dedicated committee of volunteers since 2007, Pannal JFC set on a mission to find a place to call home after more than 50 years as a ‘wandering’ club. Founded in 1966, the club now runs 23 squads ranging from U5s to U18s and currently includes more than 460 players and some 100 coaches and helpers among its ranks. The club managed their teams on a merry-go-round of hired public and private pitches across Harrogate, longing for a single co-ordinated site.

After ten years searching for and negotiating terms, a field on the edge of Pannal village was identified as a potential home. We were appointed to recontour and prepare a former farmland site into 8 pitches on three purposely fashioned terraces for junior and senior football and cricket.


Over 15,500m3 of earth was moved and remodelled to form the foundation for a cricket square and outfield, two full-size football pitches, U11/U12 areas and a small training zone at the top level, two seven-a-side pitches on the mid terrace and a further two 5-a-side pitches on the lower end near the site earmarked for the car park and clubhouse.

A large clay-lined attenuation pond was created on the middle plateau to drain the pitches, clubhouse, car park and other areas. This was installed to ensure the control of waterflow from the site into the pond and out into Crimple Beck, which meanders along the north-western boundary via concrete conduits and inlets.

Plant brought in to cut and fill the site included Komatsu PX61i GPS bulldozers and Hydrema dump trucks, fitted with low ground pressure tyres. Over 8000 m3 of topsoil was stripped from the site and progressively replaced as the terraces were created.

The surface was ripped to reduce compaction before the reapplied topsoil was cultivated, stone raked, and a final grading operation carried out.  

With a heavy natural soil profile there was a need for artificial drainage to ensure the pitches were not waterlogged for long periods in the winter. We therefore installed an 80mm lateral drainage system at 4m centres beneath all the playing surfaces, as well as cutoff drains to catch water off the banksides. These connected into outfall silt chambers then from there they were linked to the attenuation pond.

Top drains at 500mm centres, lying 90 degrees to the laterals, followed using a Koro Topdrainer to trench and backfill, again across all playing areas on the three plateaux. A 25mm sand layer lightly cultivated into the topsoil further aided drainage and provided a medium fine amelioration before we seeded the pitches with a sports ryegrass mix.

Following the construction period, we were also appointed to carry out the first year’s grounds maintenance. This involved removing any remaining stones, rolling the surface and mowing. For the first eight cuts we used our Iseki ride-on rotary fortnightly, starting when the grass reaches 60mm height and cutting down to 50mm. Then once established we used our Ransomes ride-on triple cylinder mower and reduced the cut height to 35mm, carrying out weekly then twice weekly runs ensuring the pitches were ready for handover. We also applied further dressings of fertiliser and sand topdressing as required, together with overseeding, selective weed control and Vertidraining.

Along with the pitches CLS also constructed a 1.5m wide, 760m long trim trail skirting the perimeter of the Park which will be enjoyed by the club and local community alike.

The new sports hub has now allowed the club to consolidate games at a purpose-built ground, with all facilities to hand and professionally constructed high-quality surfaces.