FW: Spectator
stand removal from Newbury Football Ground

12 October
2018 15:58 85 KB

From: Nick

To: deputychair@ncfg.uk

Dear Mr Stewart

Thank you for
your email dated 22nd September and please accept my apologies
for the delay in responding.

I have set out
my responses below your questions.

I hope this is

Kind regards


From: deputychair@ncfg.uk

Sent: 22 September 2018 00:40

To: Nick Carter Nick.Carter@westberks.gov.uk

Cc: Graham.Jones@westberks.gov.uk; James.Fredrickson@westberks.gov.uk; Bob.Sharples@sportengland.org; richard.benyon.mp@parliament.uk; editor@newburynews.co.uk; fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk; advisor@ncfg.uk; chair@ncfg.uk; press@ncfg.uk; treasurer@ncfg.uk; secretary@ncfg.uk

Subject: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground

Dear Nick,

I am the deputy
chair of Newbury Community Football Group and this letter is for your
attention, but I have also copied it to other interested parties for openness,
clarity and publication (please see cc addresses).

Regarding the
application by Hungerford Town FC to demolish the large, seated, covered
spectator stand (which has been a permanent structure for around 25 years) at
Newbury Football Ground, Faraday Road, please can you read the background and
ownership-related statements below and then respond to the questions which


NCFG’s primary
objective is to save the football ground and retain it for its purpose of
organised football matches at the higher levels of league football where a top
quality playing surface, pitch & perimeter fencing, floodlights, changing
rooms, WCs, clubhouse and spectator stands are required. Removal of the stand
greatly reduces the ground’s ability to function and is effectively a
“change of use”. Note that it achieved a higher ground grading than F
(National League System step 5) before the council removed the tenant’s security
of tenure, thus excluding the tenant club from joining high leagues and there
is still no planned site development for some years to come.


a. Newbury
Town FC had the stand erected before they folded in 1995 after which time the
ground assets remained the property of the council.

b. AFC
Newbury FC leased the ground from the council from 1996 until they folded in
2007 and again the ground assets remained in the council’s ownership.

c. Newbury
FC leased the ground from 2008 until 2018 and when they were evicted in June,
the ground assets still belonged to the council, as landlord.

d. The
various council’s football club leases mention the stand as the landlord’s

e. West
Berks Council lists the land and permanent buildings on its asset register.

f. There
has never been any mention of the stand belonging to our NCFG partners Newbury
FC in previous correspondence since NCFG formed in late 2015.

g. Cllr
Anthony Pick (chair) at the recent Newbury Town Council planning meeting on 10
September stated that WBC owns the stand.

There is no
evidence that WBC owns the stand. It is considered a tenant’s fixture and for
which the Council has no responsibility. A previous tenant paid for the stand
and acquired planning permission for its erection and a subsequent tenant took
on responsibility for that fixture. Prior to leaving the ground, the last
tenant offered the fixture to another club and the Council will not prevent
such arrangements providing relevant planning consents have been achieved.

h. WBC’s
Asset of Community Value lists the stand as an integral part of the protected
ground, also covered by cultural facility and green infrastructure policies.

It is
permissible for the stand to be taken by another party providing such action
does not constitute a disposal. The stand is not being sold but we understand
gifted to Hungerford and in this context the Council is happy with the stand
being passed to Hungerford. Overall the Council is comfortable that matters
relating to Planning, Policy and the ACV are covered off.

i. WBC’s
response to NCFG’s stage 2 complaint in late August stated that there were no
plans to demolish any part of the facility.

That is correct.
The stand as a moveable tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated.
Dismantling is covered under ‘demolition’ in Planning terms and similarly HTFC
will need a planning consent to re-erect the stand. Reference the buildings on
site, no demolition application has been drawn up and none has been requested.

j. The
above statement was made round about the same time as HTFC’s notification to

As stated, the
stand as a tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated (the latter
subject to Planning consent) and the buildings on site are being left.

k. The
prior notification in early September by HTFC to demolish suddenly changed on
29 September to no longer needing planning involvement which WBC was fully
aware of.

Nothing suddenly
changed. Officers in WBC Property Services were contacted by HTFC saying the
latter had been offered the stand by the outgoing tenant. Officers acknowledged
this but explained to HTFC that they must be responsible for finding out what
permissions might be required in order for the stand to be removed and
similarly be responsible for confirming what permissions should be required if
HTFC seek to re-erect the strand. HTFC did this of their own volition, followed
due process as advised and was granted the requisite consent via a formal
Planning process.

l. WBC no
longer receives rent from NFC and it would appear that WBC is about to sell a
protected asset.

The Council is
not receiving rent nor is it selling any asset.


Given the above
statements, please can you present proof to NCFG of:

1. who owns
the stand and why/how it may have changed hands?

The stand is a
tenant’s fixture and which was offered by the outgoing club to another
organisation. The Council did not pay for the stand nor did it seek permission
for its erection and as such is happy to see the stand be dismantled providing
due Planning process has been followed.

2. who has
the authority to allow it to be dismantled and why?

As a tenant’s
fixture, the out-going club was free to offer the stand to another
organisation. The Council as Planning Authority has the authority to grant or
otherwise planning permission for the stand to come down and indeed to be
re-erected elsewhere so long as such re-erection lies within the LPA’s
jurisdiction. A planning application was put in by HTFC, the application was
determined on its own merits and permission was granted.

3. who is
selling or releasing the stand and for how much?

Previous tenant
is releasing the stand and the Council is not benefitting financially from the

4. who has
been in contact with HTFC, NFC or their representatives regarding the

As set out above
in point K. and in Question 2, HTFC contacted WBC about the stand and similarly
HTFC contacted WBC Planning about relevant consents.

5. the
council’s intent to replace the stand, should it be removed.

The Council will
not be replacing the stand should other parties take it away.

We have around
2000 local supporters through our online and paper petitions, around a 100 of
whom attended our recent public consultation, who support NCFG’s efforts to
enhance the ground for future use. They are all voting, West Berks constituents
and would be keen to know what the ground’s landlord/building owner has to say,
as would the Football Association, Sport England and HTFC (who regrettably find
themselves in the centre of this controversy).

Your comments
are noted.

To conclude, we
believe that the stand cannot be touched until these questions have been
answered with proper evidence by WBC so, as their main spokesperson on this
matter, thank you in anticipation of your timely, full reply.

So long as any
removal is not a financial transaction between parties, the Council is happy to
see the stand dismantled and usefully re-erected elsewhere (subject to the
requisite planning consent).

Yours sincerely,

John Stewart

NCFG Deputy



07940 892407