West Berkshire Council Executive Meeting 4 May 2017

Questions and Answers – Public Questions as specified in the Council’s Procedure Rules of the Constitution

(with NCFG comments in italics)

(f) Question submitted to the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing by Ms. Judith Bunting:


“As the Council’s adopted Core Strategy requires the protection and enhancement of green infrastructure and cultural facilities in West Berkshire, including named outdoor sporting facilities, what investment is planned to safeguard and enhance the protected community green infrastructure and cultural facility at Newbury Football Ground in Faraday Road?”

The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing answered:

Thank you for your question.

Policy CS18 is clear and I will quote it “Developments resulting in the loss of green

infrastructure or harm to its use or enjoyment by the public will not be permitted. Where exceptionally it is agreed that an area of green infrastructure can be lost a new one of equal or greater size and standard will be required to be provided in an accessible location close by”.

Therefore, not every bit of existing green infrastructure will be safeguarded or enhanced within West Berkshire.

Whilst I’m sure you are aware that the football ground has been registered as an asset of community value, the Council has none the less been investigating options for alternatives for AFC Newbury such as ground share (it’s Newbury FC and WBC has not investigated ground share with that club), and although AFC Newbury has many junior sides, these play at a variety of other locations within the community (AFC Newbury Boys & Girls has had under 6s train and under 15/16s play matches there).

You refer to a cultural facility at Newbury Football Ground, but I am unaware of any other cultural offering apart from bingo (see the actual list of cultural events on the ncfg.uk Project page). West Berkshire, and Newbury in particular, has a varied cultural offering which serves its residents well.

With regard to outdoor sporting facilities, the Council, together with Sport England, has commissioned a review of the playing pitches in the authority and this is due to report in 12 months time.

Finally, I would say that the Faraday Road redevelopment will of course provide much needed housing space for businesses to grow within Newbury.

The Chairman asked: “Do you have a supplementary question arising directly out of the answer to your original question. A supplementary should be relevant to the original question and not introduce any new material?”

Ms. Judith Bunting asked the following supplementary question:

‘’Thank you for at least a partially constructive answer there. Baring in mind that in excess of 500 people, including 350 children, play club based football in and around Newbury each week, would the Council not see it fit to bring those children together and to create a cultural facility because football is after all part of British culture in that area? And with this in mind are Councillors willing to work with the Newbury Community Football Group on a progressive strategy to protect and enhance the football ground with a view to encouraging a positive attitude to exercise, health and wellbeing right at the centre of Newbury and which is at the centre of the Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy.’’

The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing answered:

Thank you for your question. We are very committed to a positive Health and Wellbeing Strategy, not just for the residents of Newbury Mrs Bunting, but for the residents of the whole of West Berkshire.

I have already said that the 350 children who play club football, do not currently play at the Newbury Football Ground (wrong) and I think that is absolutely right and proper because parents are then not polluting Newbury by driving their children into Newbury, but driving them to places where they live nearby and I think that is absolutely right, lawful and proper (parents are driving from the centre of Newbury out to Stockcross & Speen, so how does that reduce pollution?).

We are always willing to work with any organisation which comes forward to us with a positive proposal.