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Please see the news blog for recent posts on the subject.
At no time until now has WBC volunteered to replace the football ground with a like-for-like facility, even though this should have been on their to-do list back in 2003-05 (they just repeat that they've always said it was part of their "vision" and everyone must know about it); meantime we are left in a hiatus with no ground. And will the council fund a new community ground?
It was closed because WBC entered into a contract with St Modwen that obligated the council to secure vacant possession. Even without the development agreement being unlawful (which the council seems to think was not their fault), there was no way that development could have taken place for several years after the ground was closed, so why close it prematurely?
WBC has only acted under recent pressure from us, the FA and Sport England.
WBC has not explained what the benefits of flats over a football ground are (they just state it as obvious when it's not to most people) - how do they measure these so-called advantages?
Who removed the pitch perimeter spectator chain link fence from the ground and why? (it's still listed as a work cost to do).
WBC assume that any temporary tenant needs a lease, but why can't it just be an adhoc booking arrangement like we suggested?
Please see the news blog here for a short panaramic video
Please see the news blog and here for a summary of our council executive questions.
Please see the news blog and here for a list of our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
WBC want to gamble on demonstrating the LRIE redevelopment outweighs keeping the ground, but they cannot defend not replacing it! NCFG is discussing the issues with the council's leisure head, Cllr Rick Jones (more details to be added to the news blog shortly).
The surprising MUGA planning application by the Council is here:
We need to secure at least 10 objections to it to force it to committee. This is further destruction of the existing facility, there is a lack lack of evidence to support its need, it's counter to the need for formal football facilities, a waste of public money, contrary to WBC's own policies.
It will cost more than the predicted £88k (maybe up to £300K) and we demand the council declare how much it has budgeted for the facility and how much it has budgeted for the replacement of the football ground.
The Council has failed to be transparent about its intentions, has misrepresented the nature of the new facility, has spent and committed yet more public funds without evidence and unnecessarily (added to which the is no way this could be classed as a priority when other services have been deprived of funding), failed to carry out consultation, breached its own planning policy (specific protection of the football ground – ADPP2 & CS18). It's also counter-intuitive to its long term regeneration goal as the new facility will be destroyed by future redevelopment!
planapps.westberks.gov.uk quoting reference 19/00814/FUL
The group feels strongly that senior and youth football should retain its community home near the town centre and that the council has got its vision wrong.
Hundreds of children and teenagers play football in Newbury each week. This goes to the heart of improving health and wellbeing, as per West Berkshire Council’s (WBC) and the Government’s strategy. Closing the ground is fundamentally counter-productive.
Newbury Football Ground is crucial to retaining interest from young to teenage and beyond (aspiration to play at a higher, older age level and succession of players progressing) and it is Newbury’s premier ground.
Despite the best efforts of the volunteer group that has maintained the ground, it has suffered from chronic under-investment (including no public funding) which NCFG is aiming to address.
The FA concludes that West Berks needs at least four 3G/4G pitches.
The main objectives of WBC in redeveloping the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE, where the Faraday Road ground is) are regeneration and increased income from the land.
NCFG’s plan to develop Newbury Football Ground (NFG) into an exciting, multi-sport community facility for the community with artificial pitch(es) is financially sustainable and has the potential to dramatically improve the council’s income. It will therefore satisfy the above objectives and is in keeping with current strategies for regeneration/income enhancement from LRIE and improving wellbeing/health in West Berkshire (particularly for the young).
NCFG’s plan is compatible with the council’s objectives so we believe that the council should welcome it. In fact, NCFG is not proposing anything that opposes/damages the council’s strategy and objectives.
WBC’s draft Housing Site Allocations policy (see section 2.10 – 2.14 London Road Industrial Estate - Area of Regeneration) identifies that the area is not required for housing, so their proposal to redevelop the ground for flats is unsupported by evidence and planning policy.
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