Future of Newbury's Faraday Road football ground remains uncertain
CONTROVERSIAL proposals to demolish the clubhouse at Newbury’s Faraday Road football ground and turn the site into an open recreation space have been deferred.
The application, put forward by West Berkshire Council, was heard by the council’s western area planning committee on Wednesday July 21.
However, after hearing representations from both sides, councillors voted to refer the decision to the council’s district planning committee – its highest level of decision making for planning.
This was so the item could be considered in the wider context of the council’s plans to redevelop the London Road Industrial Estate, as well as its plans to replace the football ground with a new ground at Newbury Rugby Club in Monks Lane.
It was also considered that many of the western area committee members had conflicts of interest, including executive member for leisure Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn), executive member for planning and housing Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley & Cold Ash), and council leader Lynne Doherty (Con, Speen).
The committee also included Liberal Democrat councillors Tony Vickers (Wash Common) and Phil Barnett (Greenham) who are also on Newbury Town Council, which is against the proposed demolition of the clubhouse.
The application is now likely to be heard on Wednesday, September 8, at the next available district planning committee.
The district council meanwhile continues to push ahead with its plans to build the replacement football ground at Monks Lane, with Mr Woollaston saying he was still optimistic that the step 4 stadium would be open by the council’s March 2022 target.
This is the deadline for Newbury Football Club to register the new ground with the Football Association as their home stadium for the 2022/23 football season.
If they miss the deadline then the football club could be forced to play at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground in Thatcham for a fourth successive season.
Mr Woollaston, who initially targeted the beginning of May to submit a planning application, said he hoped the application would be submitted by the end of this week.
He said: “The planning application is almost ready to go – I’m hoping to get it in by Friday but I’m not going to promise it.
“If it goes through very easily we’ll hit the March date.
“It would be a real shame not to hit it – that’s where I’m hoping the football community as a whole will understand and make life relatively easy for us to help Newbury FC and Newbury Ladies FC.”
Mr Woollaston added that the 40-year lease with the rugby club was almost ready for signing but had to be tweaked due to “having a slightly larger clubhouse than we initially anticipated”.