18 00604 OUT
Outline permission for Replacement of clubhouse and stand at Newbury

Football Ground
Matters to be considered: Access and Layout.
Newbury Football Club Faraday Road Newbury Berkshire RG14 2AD

We appreciate that Newbury Football Club (AFC Newbury) is not in a position on its own to turn this application into reality, but we believe it and its sister application for the pitches raise a serious issue.

West Berkshire Council has been preparing plans for the London Road Industrial Estate (i.e. Faraday Road area, which includes this site) for years now, but so far their plans have not gone out for consultation; and there has been no opportunity for public input.

Following the issues with the Market Street “gateway” development (towards which the council is contributing multi-million-pound assets, with – as some would say – little obvious gain for the town of Newbury), we need to see a clear gain for Newbury in the LRIE redevelopment. It should not be a purely commercial redevelopment, but must include community facilities – facilities catering for the town as a whole, and not just catering for new on-site residents.

One such community facility could be a sports area, including an up-to-date, properly-planned, football ground. Newbury as a town is large enough and wealthy enough to expect such a facility, and it would be a perfect partner for this development. The health and wellbeing of Newbury is key and sport plays a key part in the well-being of residents. And after all, it was Newbury ratepayers who paid for the purchase of this site, not council tax payers from West Berkshire as a whole

It is given these circumstances that we support this application. We are responding to this as an outline application, for a replacement clubhouse and stand, accompanying the application for more pitches. We accept that further work will be needed on the detail; and we are not making any current assumptions about the ownership or occupation of such a ground.

Given the economic circumstances in which local authorities are placed, the prospect for land purchase is severely limited. West Berkshire Council must make sure that its plans for the LRIE genuinely represent the needs of its residents, and in particular the residents of Newbury.

David Peacock
Newbury Society
September 1, 2018