No progress at Faraday Road is not a failure, outgoing West Berkshire Council chief says
No progress in redeveloping the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE) is not a failure.
West Berkshire Council's outgoing chief executive Nick Carter added that the decision to evict Newbury Football Club in 2018 was "entirely appropriate".
The council has wanted to redevelop the estate since 2003 and its proposals to start the project fell apart following a court ruling over procurement in 2018.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News before he retired last Thursday, Mr Carter said: "It's disappointing that’s been delayed by the court action, which was a surprise to us and the rest of the country because other councils had procured development of that nature.
"I don’t view it as a failure. It’s disappointing that it’s delayed."
He said that the council could create "something vastly better" than what was there now, which he said "did the town no justice".
Newbury FC played their last game in Faraday Road in 2018 and have played their home games in Brimpton and Thatcham since.
Mr Carter said: "It was entirely appropriate to close the ground when we did.
"We had conversations with the football club to make it clear that we wouldn't renew the lease.
"The expectation was that we would move fairly quickly on the redevelopment with St Modwen and they were clear they needed vacant possession.
"It was the right thing to do.
"Clearly events have taken a different turn.
"We have moved on with the whole leisure debate."
He said that redeveloping LRIE would take between 10 and 15 years and that looking for a replacement football ground had become an "exciting focus" about leisure provision in Newbury.
Restarting LRIE, Mr Carter said: "The opportunity to start afresh post-pandemic isn’t unhelpful. Ideally it would have been nice to have something happen before now.
"Something needs to happen, there can be no doubt about that and it will be someone else to lead on it."
Mr Carter said there was a lot of activity to employ the playing pitch strategy beyond LRIE.
He said: "I remain of the view that’s not the place to put a football ground.
"There was a sense of putting a leisure quarter together and Monks Lane was seen as the place for that.
"Sporting provision will come but it ain’t gonna be at LRIE."