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Newbury Sports Hub development on hold after decision potentially subject to judicial review

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West Berkshire Council has been forced to pause the construction of its new Sports Hub in Monks Lane after it was subject to a request for a judicial review.

The request, brought by Newbury resident Alan Pearce, is challenging the legality of planning permission granted to the development.

The council expects to hear next month whether the request for the review will be granted by the High Court, and has decided to not progress with the development agreement until it has the decision of the court.

The sports hub would be built at the rugby club in Monks Lane
The sports hub would be built at the rugby club in Monks Lane

Planning permission for the Sports Hub, at Newbury Rugby Club, was granted by the council’s planning committee in March.

Mr Pearce refused to comment.

The council’s executive member for leisure, Howard Woollaston (Con, Lambourn) said the request would increase costs for both the local authority and taxpayers.

He said: “Unfortunately the impact of this judicial review application will have an adverse impact on both the local community and the council itself.

“It will delay the opening of this new, first-class facility and mean community groups have to wait longer until they can begin to enjoy the new space.

“It will also increase costs for the council, and local taxpayers, because inflation and the costs of materials means that the facility will be more expensive when we come to build it.

“We believe the application for the judicial review is without merit, and that the planning consent was correctly granted and will stand up to any scrutiny by the courts.

“We remain fully committed to delivering this excellent new facility for Newbury and the wider area.”

The council had originally hoped to have the Sports Hub finished by March 2022, allowing Newbury Football Club to play its home games there next season.

However, the club – which has been playing in Lambourn – will be unable to return to its home town just yet.

The club was evicted from its former Faraday Road home in the summer of 2018 by West Berkshire Council to make way for the redevelopment of the site.

The council was originally planning to build flats on the playing field, but its agreement with its chosen developer St Modwen was found to have breached procurement law.

As revealed by the NWN last week, the council has now scrapped its plans to build flats on the site, and is now hoping to use the field for commercial space.

It’s not yet clear where Newbury Football Club will be playing next season.

West Berkshire Council has signed a 40-year lease with Newbury Rugby Club at a cost of around £41,000-a-year for the rent and maintenance of the ground, plus a £25,000-a-year sinking fund for a new pitch every 10 years.

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