Tue, 26 Jan 2021
Concerns have been raised over the unsuitability of a substitute location for a new football ground in Newbury.
West Berkshire Council has identified ‘The Diamond’ on Pigeons Farm in Greenham as a plan B should its proposals to build a new ground at Newbury Rugby Club be unsuccessful.
However, the council has said that The Diamond was “a satisfactory, but not ideal location”.
Concern has been expressed by residents and councillors on the “unsuitable” back-up plan.
Greenham parish and district councillor Phil Barnett (Lib Dem, Newbury Greenham) said at an executive meeting last week: “It’s not an area which would be able to accommodate a large number of vehicles.
“I don’t want to see the local facilities that are already using that site being affected.
“There’s a lot of good local community activities taking place and that’s one of the things I would hate to see – the loss of good community activities that have been working and helping the local community over a long period of time.”
Fellow Greenham councillor Erik Pattenden said The Diamond as a plan B was “not suitable at all”.
He said: “It’s too small, it lacks infrastructure for access and for parking, and, if it were to go ahead, it would represent a huge loss of amenity to the local community and the current users of the site. In our view it should not be included in this report.
“Without a suitable plan B, how much risk does that introduce to the overall project?”
Executive member for leisure Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn) said: “The Diamond is very much a plan B and I mean a plan B – we want it [the new ground] at the rugby club.”
He added that the rugby club and the council had held several weeks of positive informal talks.
“They are committed to be a community sporting facility. We don’t anticipate any significant problem there,” he said.
Greenham parish councillor Adrian Abbs (Lib Dem, Newbury Wash Common) said there had been no community involvement about using The Diamond.
He said: “I wasn’t even asked once about The Diamond, which is plan B, and if I had been I could have given a lot of detail about how unsuitable that site is.
“So what really concerns me is that if plan A does fail, that is a terrible solution.
“We’re probably all on the same page. We all want the football community to have a facility.
“I won’t bore everybody with how stupid it was to go the way we have, but the reality is we need a football pitch for them again.
“But if you’re going to use words like collaboration, community and so on, please involve councillors and the community, at least at a parish level before you come out with these proposals, which become de facto adopted.”
Council leader Lynne Doherty (Con Speen) said: “We are required to show alternatives and we are opening it up to public consultation and we’re quite within our right to do that.”