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Replacement football ground at Newbury Rugby Club to be step 4 facility

Newbury Rugby Club (46440296)
Newbury Rugby Club (46440296)

THE proposed football ground at Newbury Rugby Club will be a Step 4 facility and will have a clubhouse with a bar, it has been confirmed.

West Berkshire Council and the rugby club have agreed terms on a deal to locate the ground at the Monks Lane site, and the proposals will be put to the council’s executive next Thursday for approval.

If approved, a planning application will be submitted at the beginning of May, with the council hoping the ground can be opened in March 2022.

The rugby club was identified in January as the council’s preferred site for a replacement for the Faraday Road football ground, which has stood empty since Newbury Football Club were evicted in the summer of 2018 ahead of the regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate.

In January it was revealed that the council were aiming for a Step 6 facility – one above Newbury FC’s current Step 7 level – with the potential to improve to Step 5.

However, the council’s executive member for leisure and culture Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn) has confirmed that the replacement ground will be a Step 4 facility, potentially with room for expansion, after the council secured more land than previously expected.

This means Newbury Football Club will be able to compete at a level three leagues above where they currently are without further improvements needing to be made to the ground.

The proposed ground will have two covered stands – one of 150 capacity on the halfway line and another of 50 – and the ground will have a minimum capacity of 1,000 as stipulated by FA rules.

There will be floodlights, four changing rooms and a clubhouse with a bar area, as well as a high-quality artificial pitch which will be available for community use.

Mr Woollaston said he was optimistic the council would meet its March 2022 prediction for opening.

He said: “Assuming we can get it through executive next week and submit a planning application at the beginning of May, and assuming there are no problems on planning, we’re very confident we can get it open by March 2022.

“The planning application will be for a Step 4 ground.

“We’re looking at how we can get more stands in if we get beyond that but frankly I think that’s five years down the line realistically, even with a following wind.

“I’m delighted that Newbury FC will be able to return to Newbury, and the ladies as well.”

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