Newbury sports and recreation space to open at the former Faraday Road football ground
A new sports and recreation space will be open for the public in Newbury by the end of the year.
West Berkshire Council is to open the temporary recreation space at the former Faraday Road football ground site.
An arson attack in August saw the football clubhouse destroyed – and the subsequent demolition work means only the concrete base remains. A new application to remove that will be submitted in due course.
A planning application to demolish the former clubhouse, create additional car parking on the site and to enable the temporary opening of the sports and recreation space while redevelopment plans were drawn up, was submitted in October 2020 and was due to be considered by the District Planning Committee later this year.
Work will now begin at the site to address remaining safety concerns, such as the removal of redundant electrical equipment and fencing.
Part of the boundary fencing will then be removed to enable the playing field to be opened up for informal sport and recreation activities, including football, rounders and dog walking.
Timber bollards will also be installed to prevent vehicles gaining access to the green space and cycle racks will be provided to encourage active travel.
These activities do not require planning permission, therefore contractors will start on site in the near future.
The site, which forms part of the London Road Industrial Estate and previously included a pitch and clubhouse building, has been empty since the summer of 2018 after the council evicted Newbury Football Club to allow plans to be brought forward for significant investment, including the creation of a new gateway into Newbury with a mixture of commercial and residential development.
Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield), executive member for finance and economic development at West Berkshire Council, said: “A lot has happened in the last 12 months and it is right to review our plans following this summer’s fire on the site, which destroyed most of the former clubhouse.
“Re-assessing our plans and opening up the recreational space on a temporary basis to the public at the earliest possible opportunity, as we planned to do back in 2018, is in the best interests of the community in Newbury and we’re glad local people will be able to access it so soon for exercise and informal sports and recreation.
“In tandem, we’re also working with partners including Sport England and the Football Association to re-provide football facilities in Newbury at both professional and community levels.
“Our commitment to an exciting new development on the site in the medium to long term remains strong and we look forward to bringing forward plans for this in the near future.”
West Berkshire Council is planning to shift football provision to the rugby ground, by leasing the space from Newbury Rugby Club.
It says no details are yet public about the costs of the scheme to council tax payers as commercial discussions are still under way.
The scheme is likely to go before West Berkshire’s planning committee and then to its executive committee once final negotiations are complete.