To all West Berkshire District Councillors
Today marks the second anniversary of the needless closure of Newbury’s Community Football Ground and the eviction of its previous tenants, Newbury FC, despite a petition against the destruction of the ground that was signed by nearly 7000 people
I think most people will now agree that it was a mistake to close the ground and lock out the community, when after 2 years the Council hasn’t even started the Planning process to redevelop LRIE and with even the most ambitious estimates we are another 4-5 years away from the point at which any development could reasonably be expected to start.
Furthermore the Council’s adopted Playing Pitch Strategy states that a new Ground of “FA Step 6 facilities will be available before any construction work starts at Faraday Road”. These last few months have reminded us all how important exercise and sport are for both physical and mental health and locking hundreds of children out of a sports facility now seems particularly unreasonable and the refusal to re-open it even more so. These actions are ones you would associate with a “heartless property developer”, not your local Council!
I remind you of your commitment to re-open the ground “soon” in June 2018 and we urge you again to move quickly to re-open the ground to a bookable venue for organised sport for children, youth, ladies and men’s football.
Until redevelopment is ready to start and the commitments to the Playing Pitch Strategy are fulfilled there are no reasons why the ground cannot be re-opened.
NCFG have always been clear we would support re-location of the ground, providing it was of equal or better quality to what was there (before WBC destroyed it) but it should remain open for community use until a replacement facility was available.
May I remind you all too that Newbury Football Ground is identified as a cultural facility in WBC’s Area Delivery Plan Policy 2 (ADPP2), which states, “Existing community facilities will be protected and, where appropriate, enhanced. These include leisure and cultural facilities, which contribute to the attraction of the town for both residents and visitors.”
And that the football ground is a formal West Berks Council Asset of Community Value (AVC) and despite public denials from some Councillors, Newbury Football Ground is identified in WBC’s Local Planning Policy CS.18 as a vital part of Green Infrastructure in West Berkshire; which states “the district’s Green Infrastructure will be protected and enhanced” and “Developments resulting in the loss of green infrastructure or harm to its use or enjoyment by the public will not be permitted”.
The Ground in 2018 The Ground in 2020
As always we are willing to meet and discuss these matters.
In late 2015, as a direct consequence of West Berkshire Council’s decision to close Newbury’s only community football ground, without a commitment to replace it, Newbury Community Football Group (NCFG) was formed.
NCFG is a Community Interest Company (CIC) incorporated in 2016 (Company No.10155949).
The simple objective of the CIC is to carry out activities which benefit the whole community and in particular to support and champion the provision of first class, easily accessible, football facilities for ALL groups in the local community.
Football is our national sport; it inspires young people and provides a focus for personal and physical development from early years into adulthood.
News update 24 June 2020
Wednesday 24 June marks the second anniversary since West Berkshire Council closed Newbury Football Ground. It’s the only decent ground in the town and has been used for big matches on that site since 1963.
Corporate vandalism by WBC? Why? What next? Please see our press release on the news blog here.
See our open, frank letter to all councillors on the new blog here.
Our MP questions the council about the closure and gets told London Road Estate will be for affordable housing. A convenient get-out and news to everyone before the outcome of the survey! Do they expect us to believe that the prime real-estate where the ground lies adjacent to the river will be for that? (they want the ground for expensive flats!).