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Lease offer may give Newbury FC extra time

The district council has this week offered Newbury Town Council the option of renting the ground

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886632

Foul! Newbury Football Club may fold after council backtracks on replacement ground

A NEW proposal has been put forward which could allow Newbury FC to carry on playing football at Faraday Road until the regeneration of the area begins.

The current lease on the land expires on June 24, so, as things stand, the football club will have to leave then and find somewhere else to play next season.

However, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel for the club, for now at least.

West Berkshire Council has this week offered Newbury Town Council the option of renting the ground, which would allow it to be made available for recreational use.

If this is agreed, the football club, alongside other community groups, would then be able to approach the town council and ask if they can play there.

However, the short-term lease offered to the town council will include a clause which would allow West Berkshire Council to take it back at short notice when developers move in.

Newbury FC chairman Keith Moss was cautiously optimistic about the proposal.

He said: “This seems to be good news because it gives us a bit of extra time to sort things out.

“I have been in touch with the town council with regards to the pitch in Victoria Park where we used to play, but there are no dressing rooms.

“If that was available then at least we would have somewhere to play, because the club has been going in the town since 1887.

“All the players want to stay here and they are asking me what is happening.”

The option will be discussed by the town council at a meeting next week and, if it decides to support the proposal, it will go out to consultation to allow the public to have their say.

A final decision is expected to be made by the town council on June 25, once the results of the public consultation are known.

The ground falls within an area earmarked for a redevelopment of the London Road Industrial Estate, which will include new housing office and retail space.

St Modwen was appointed as the council’s preferred developer back in 2014 and plans are expected to be submitted once legal issues have been resolved.

In the meantime, West Berkshire Council and Newbury Town Council are exploring options for the site to ensure it still remains available for community use until the development begins.

To complicate matters further, a separate planning application by Newbury CommunityFootball Group in relation to the ground has also been submitted and is currently being considered by the council.

West Berkshire councillor James Fredrickson said: “This land is important for our vision for the area but until work begins we want it to remain accessible to the local community.

“We have approached Newbury Town Council, given its fantastic track record in maintaining recreation sites across Newbury.

“I’m hopeful that they will rent the land from us and use it to benefit the town until the moment development begins. 

“However should they be unable to accept the proposal, West Berkshire Council would look to operate the Faraday Road site directly.”

West Berkshire Council was originally going to kick Newbury FC out of Faraday Road in June 2016, but, following a public backlash, gave the club a two-year stay of execution.

The council’s chief executive, Nick Carter, said at the time that it was “not duty bound” to find the football club somewhere else to play but would do all it could to help.

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