One of the positive legacies of the covid pandemic is the sense of community that has re-emerged. Utilising our outdoor spaces has been especially important for our health and wellbeing and the Council will continue to work closely with communities to encourage this growing appetite for active participation in sports and leisure.
Discussions are well underway to provide a fantastic new football facility for Newbury at the Newbury Rugby Club. The Council firmly believes that this is the right location and right solution to provide enhanced field sports as identified in the Playing Pitch Strategy. The aim is to have this ready by March 2022 and well in time for the football season 2022. By developing the sports offering at an already established location will make this a centre of excellence.
Council surveys conducted in July 2018 found the old football clubhouse and associated structures beyond economic repair and where occupation of these buildings could only happen with £200K of immediate remedial works.
Newbury Community Football Group have repeatedly expressed their forthright views that the ground should be reinstated for community football.
Councillor Ross Mackinnon, portfolio holder for Economic Development said “despite the Newbury Community Football Group protestations that the old grounds could be temporarily reinstated, the figures they have put forward are disingenuous. The idea that £27,000 would bring this space up to a standard compliant with health and safety standards is simply not credible.”
Councillor Howard Woollaston, portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture said “whilst the Council understands the deep frustration felt by the football community, the Council has carefully considered all options of the land formerly used as a football pitch at Faraday Road.
“As the last tenant of the old football ground, Newbury Football Club has successfully carried on playing at another venue supported by the Council and there is agreement that these arrangements can remain in place until delivery of the new facility. None of these proposals have any impact on any other football teams as they play at different locations. The Council has routinely requested that any football team in need of support to find a playing pitch should come forward and, to date, none have.
“The proposal from Newbury Community Football Group limits the use of the ground by sports other than football and we are keen to see it used more broadly.”
In the meantime, it is widely known that the Council wants to see the regeneration of the flagship London Road Industrial Estate which will transform the eastern approach to Newbury, contemporary light industrial units and modern office space fit for the future. It will also deliver much-needed affordable housing and result in better connectivity with the town centre ensuring that we remain an attractive and vibrant area for investment and creating jobs and prosperity for the district.
The Development Brief and delivery plan was agreed by the Council’s Executive in November and December 2020 and the Council’s aspirations for the whole site are set out detail reports which are publically available here
Demolition of the old clubhouse is programmed for completion by the end of this year and will begin after bat surveys required by Natural England have been carried out. This is to ensure we can mitigate any potential detrimental effect on this important protected species.
The sum mentioned - £191,000 – includes the demolition of the old clubhouse, lavatory block, old spectator stand, concrete hard-standing and existing grass pitch boundary fence which is in very poor condition. The rest of the budget will create additional parking spaces in the existing car park and ensure that the former football pitch is made publically accessible to all residents and a wider variety of sports. This use will continue for several years, pending the redevelopment of the whole site.