Football ground plans now up in the air
A proposal to keep the Faraday Road football pitch in Newbury as a recreational space until the regeneration of the area begins has been put forward to Newbury Town Council.
The football pitch falls within an area earmarked for an ambitious redevelopment of the London Road Industrial Estate. The scheme, a partnership with leading developer St Modwen PLC, will deliver new homes, affordable housing and high-quality office and retail space and transform an important area of the town which is in need of redevelopment.
To ensure the land is available at short notice for the regeneration work the facility - currently leased to Trustees of the Newbury Football Club - will return to West Berkshire Council when the lease expires in June.
West Berkshire Council and Newbury Town Council are exploring options for the site to ensure it still remains available for community use until the development begins. Under a new proposal the ground could be rented by Newbury Town Council and made available for recreational use.
The proposal will be discussed by Newbury Town Council's Policy and Resources Committee when it meets on Monday 30th April. Should the Committee decide in principle to support the proposal, it's likely a final decision will be made by Newbury Town Council on 25th June, 2018 once it has completed a public consultation on the proposal.
Welcoming the proposal Councillor James Fredrickson from West Berkshire Council said: "This land is important for our vision for the area but until work begins we want it to remain accessible to the local community. Newbury Town Council have a good track record running local facilities such as the tennis courts and Victoria Park as well as regular events such as the market. I'm hopeful that they will rent the land from us and use it to benefit the town until the moment development begins."
The expiration of the football ground lease marks the next step towards a multi-million pound project to regenerate the London Road Industrial Estate. It follows a strategic assessment of the area undertaken by West Berkshire Council in 2010 which informed a decision to redevelop the area. Following a competitive tendering process St Modwen was appointed by West Berkshire Council as its development partner in 2014 and since then plans for the area have been developed. Under the current proposals modern housing, office and retail space will be created to transform the area.
A separate planning application, submitted by the Newbury Football Community Group in relation to the football ground has also been received. The applicants were invited to meet with the West Berkshire Council and set out their business proposals for the site. This has already taken place and the proposals will be considered by the Council.
Lee McDougall, a spokesman for Newbury Community Football Group, responded to Reading Chronicle: "We had official confirmation last week that our application had been lodged. This latest news is obviously disappointing, as it sounds like they are happy to take away football pitches when we need more of them.
"We want to redevelop the land to make it accessible for the whole community. The first stage of the battle will be to see if our application is accepted and the council will have to deal with organisations, such as Sport England, who are against removing the pitches."