Newbury Weekly News

Thursday, September 13, 2018 No objection to pitch plans at football club Community group’s proposals would boost soccer facilities in the town

Newbury Weekly News

Grounds for concern “THATCHAM FC can get all the way to Wembley – and in Newbury, it seems we can ’t even have a

viable football ground any more.” That was the despondent view from one Newbury town councillor as her fellow members raised no objection to dismantling the spectator stand at Newbury FC’s former Faraday Road Last month, Hungerford FC submit- ted plans to demolish the spectator stand at the Faraday Road ground and re-erect it at their own home in Bulpit Lane. The application was submitted shortly after Newbury FC’s 55-year stay at Faraday Road came to an end in June, when West Berkshire Coun- cil refused to extend the club’s lease. The council wants to replace the ground with flats as part of its wider plan to regenerate the London Road Industrial Estate and is currently carrying out safety checks ahead of its development for a free-to-use, multi-use games area. A spokesperson from West Berkshire Council confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that the report’s find- ings were still being finalised. But when members of a rather depleted Newbury Town Council planning and highways committee met earlier this week, they were instructed to analyse Hungerford FC’s proposal “ purely in planning terms” – and not in light of recent events at the Faraday Road site. Six committee members were absent from the meeting. It is believed Hungerford FC, who play at a higher level than Newbury FC in National League South, require a stand to fulfil league requirements. But Newbury Community Football Group (NCFG)– who are a separate entity to Newbury FC– view the stand as an integral part of the foot- balling infrastructure at the Faraday Road ground. Members heard from NCFG’s deputy chairman John Stewart on why the stand should remain. Mr Stewart said: “This application to remove or dismantle the stand changes the site’s current use as a football ground. “It’s been awkward that another foot- ball club wants to acquire it, but it’s part of the football ground we are trying to protect.” ground – for the benefit of a neighbouring football club.

chunk” of the combined devel- opment would be paid for by The FA, while the rest would be provided by private sources. The council also heard from Sue Hewett, the first-team coach of Newbury Ladies FC, who added a female voice to the lack of playing facilities in the area for her team. Up until recently, Miss Hewett’s team trained on just a third of a 3G pitch at Park House School every week. But demand from other teams in the area to use the school’s pitches is so high that her squad can no longer train there – instead basing them- selves at Donnington Recre- ation Ground, which has no floodlights. The team are still trying to secure a winter training venue, which Miss Hewett described as a “real headache” for the women’s game in the area. Adrian Edwards (Con, Falk- land) suggested Northcroft playing fields as a viable alter- native, a site which he claimed was “currently underused”. But Miss Hewett was quick to play down the proposition. “Northcroft doesn’t have floodlights, it’s the same as Donnington Recreation Ground,” she replied. “We would love to expand and start teams for girls in lower age groups under the Newbury Ladies FC umbrella, but the lack of good facilities prevents this.” Mrs O’Keefe concluded: “I think we’ve heard enough tonight to see that there’s a need for a high-quality facility in Newbury that is open for both males and females. “I know there’s an elephant in the room about that whole site, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss tonight.”

Report by FIONA TOMAS email twitter @fionatomas_nwn

NEWBURY Town Council have raised no objection to redeveloping the town’s redundant Faraday Road football ground – amid the dawning realisation that there is a severe shortage of playing facilities within the town. The proposals – put forward by Newbury Community Foot- ball Group (NCFG) – include a new clubhouse, changing rooms, toilets, office, confer- ence room and other ancillary uses on the ground floor and a bar and café viewing area on the first floor. The plans were submitted, despite West Berkshire Coun- cil wanting to replace the ground with flats as part of a wider plan to redevelop the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE). A non-profit organisation which represents the interests of Newbury’s football commu- nity, NCFG has embarked on a mission to save the ground from demolition. The group has also submit- ted a separate application for 3G and 4G artificial grass pitches at the ground, which is currently being considered by district planners. The group are holding a public consultation this evening (Thursday) in The Document House, Wharf Street, Newbury, entitled, ‘What’s the fuss about – Newbury doesn’t need a foot- ball ground – does it?’ Members and non-members of Newbury’s footballing community, and town and district councillors, are being encouraged to attend the event, which starts at 5pm.

Elizabeth O’Keefe

Mr Stewart also stressed that The FA and Sport England– whose aim is to build a foundation of community sports in England– were objecting to the application. Elizabeth O’Keefe (Lib Dem, Victoria) raised strong objections to the proposal, amid fears football in Newbury was stagnating compared with other clubs in the area. Speaking of the stand itself, Mrs O’Keefe said:“Hungerford Football Club want to take this asset. “Thatcham Football Club can get all the way to Wembley and in Newbury, it seems we can ’t even have a viable football ground anymore.” But Jeff Beck (Con, Clay Hill) said he would “personally have no objection” if Hungerford could gain from having the available stand. He also downplayed the importance of Sport England’ s objection, suggest- ing it carried limited weight. Mr Beck said: “Sport England might have what I might term a ‘technical objection’ to this proposal. “To me, it is a bit of a technical fudge and not something of paramount importance.” But Mrs O’Keefe hit back, saying: “I don’t think this is a technical fudge. Sport England’s objection is quite pertinent. “Why should we hand one of our foot- ball assets over to Hungerford to support them? “We’re here to support Newbury.” The Lib Dem’s objection to the proposal did not carry, which resulted in members voting no objec- tion, with Adrian Edwards (Con, Falkland) abstaining.

Newbury Community Football Group ’s plans for 3G and 4G pitches at Faraday Road

At a meeting between Newbury Town Council’s planning and highways committee on Monday evening, property developer Duncan Crook, who is supporting both NCFG appli- cations, put forward his case as to why both applications are “compatible” with the LRIE regeneration. The ground, Mr Crook indi- cated, is identified in local planning policy as a vital part of green infrastructure in West Berkshire and comple- ments The Newbury Vision, a document which sets out the council’s and community’s aspirations for the future of Newbury. Members also heard how the installation of the 3G pitches would improve the usability of the ground, which was recognised as an Asset of Community Value in 2016.

Advocates of the proposal say the 3G pitches will enable more games to be played on a daily basis and will help address a pitch shortage in West Berkshire, as identified by the Football Association in a recent report. The application is also supported by a recent survey conducted by NCFG, which found that 91 per cent of respondents felt that the town did not have enough quality outdoor football venues. Mr Crook said: “An artificial surface will have improved draining systems within it and cannot be churned up – it’s a better proposition.” Elizabeth O’Keefe (Lib Dem, Victoria) asked the developer: “Better than putting houses on it? Mr Crook replied: “Emphat- ically, yes.” He added that “a large

Coffee morning in aid of flood victims A COFFEE mor ning to help the victims of the flooding in the Indian sta te of Kerala has raised £1,661.81. The event was organised by the Newbury Malayalee

Talk on Great Train Robbery LEARN more about The Great Train Robbery in Thatcham next week. The Newbury Transport Group will hear from retired Thames Valley Police chief inspector Antony Keep about the world-famous event of 1963. After retirement Mr Keep became a volunteer in the force museum. He has written a book to raise money for the Police Rehabilita- tion Fund and in 2003 started researching The Great Train Robbery of 1963. He has also researched into 49 police officers who were killed onmilitary servicein the First World War. He also talks on the Travelling Post Office. The talk will be held from 7.30pm until 9.30pm in the community space at Kennet School, Thatcham on Monday, September 17. Admissionis free and a raffle and refreshments will be provided. For more details, call David and Marion Canning on 0118 981567 or e mail davidandmari-

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Cultural Associa tion and held in Newbury Town Hall on Saturday. It was supported by a number of local organisa- tions, including Double Tree by Hilton Newbury North and Chilis restaurant, which provided the food, and the West Berkshire Indian Soci- ety. Newbury mayor Margo Payne also attended. Visitors were able to taste a variety of cakes and snacks, including Indian specialities . A video demonstration showed the result of the devas- tating flooding. Verun Chandrabalan, a member of the associa tion who helped to org anised the event, said: “During the three hours of the coffee morning we must have had around 350 visitors. The room was packed. “I am delighted tha t we


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Visitors to the coffee morning at Newbur y To n Hall

have managed to raise so much money.” The flooding, which hit

Kerala in early August, resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people.

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