FW: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground
12 October 2018 15:58 85 KB
From: Nick Carter
Dear Mr Stewart
Thank you for your email dated 22nd September and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
I have set out my responses below your questions.
I hope this is helpful.
Sent: 22 September 2018 00:40
To: Nick Carter Nick.Carter@westberks.gov.uk
Cc: Graham.Jones@westberks.gov.uk; James.Fredrickson@westberks.gov.uk; Bob.Sharples@sportengland.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Spectator stand removal from Newbury Football Ground
I am the deputy chair of Newbury Community Football Group and this letter is for your attention, but I have also copied it to other interested parties for openness, clarity and publication (please see cc addresses).
Regarding the application by Hungerford Town FC to demolish the large, seated, covered spectator stand (which has been a permanent structure for around 25 years) at Newbury Football Ground, Faraday Road, please can you read the background and ownership-related statements below and then respond to the questions which follow?
NCFG’s primary objective is to save the football ground and retain it for its purpose of organised football matches at the higher levels of league football where a top quality playing surface, pitch & perimeter fencing, floodlights, changing rooms, WCs, clubhouse and spectator stands are required. Removal of the stand greatly reduces the ground’s ability to function and is effectively a "change of use". Note that it achieved a higher ground grading than F (National League System step 5) before the council removed the tenant’s security of tenure, thus excluding the tenant club from joining high leagues and there is still no planned site development for some years to come.
a. Newbury Town FC had the stand erected before they folded in 1995 after which time the ground assets remained the property of the council.
b. AFC Newbury FC leased the ground from the council from 1996 until they folded in 2007 and again the ground assets remained in the council’s ownership.
c. Newbury FC leased the ground from 2008 until 2018 and when they were evicted in June, the ground assets still belonged to the council, as landlord.
d. The various council’s football club leases mention the stand as the landlord’s asset.
e. West Berks Council lists the land and permanent buildings on its asset register.
f. There has never been any mention of the stand belonging to our NCFG partners Newbury FC in previous correspondence since NCFG formed in late 2015.
g. Cllr Anthony Pick (chair) at the recent Newbury Town Council planning meeting on 10 September stated that WBC owns the stand.
There is no evidence that WBC owns the stand. It is considered a tenant’s fixture and for which the Council has no responsibility. A previous tenant paid for the stand and acquired planning permission for its erection and a subsequent tenant took on responsibility for that fixture. Prior to leaving the ground, the last tenant offered the fixture to another club and the Council will not prevent such arrangements providing relevant planning consents have been achieved.
h. WBC’s Asset of Community Value lists the stand as an integral part of the protected ground, also covered by cultural facility and green infrastructure policies.
It is permissible for the stand to be taken by another party providing such action does not constitute a disposal. The stand is not being sold but we understand gifted to Hungerford and in this context the Council is happy with the stand being passed to Hungerford. Overall the Council is comfortable that matters relating to Planning, Policy and the ACV are covered off.
i. WBC’s response to NCFG’s stage 2 complaint in late August stated that there were no plans to demolish any part of the facility.
That is correct. The stand as a moveable tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated. Dismantling is covered under ‘demolition’ in Planning terms and similarly HTFC will need a planning consent to re-erect the stand. Reference the buildings on site, no demolition application has been drawn up and none has been requested.
j. The above statement was made round about the same time as HTFC’s notification to demolish.
As stated, the stand as a tenant’s fixture is being dismantled and relocated (the latter subject to Planning consent) and the buildings on site are being left.
k. The prior notification in early September by HTFC to demolish suddenly changed on 29 September to no longer needing planning involvement which WBC was fully aware of.
Nothing suddenly changed. Officers in WBC Property Services were contacted by HTFC saying the latter had been offered the stand by the outgoing tenant. Officers acknowledged this but explained to HTFC that they must be responsible for finding out what permissions might be required in order for the stand to be removed and similarly be responsible for confirming what permissions should be required if HTFC seek to re-erect the strand. HTFC did this of their own volition, followed due process as advised and was granted the requisite consent via a formal Planning process.
l. WBC no longer receives rent from NFC and it would appear that WBC is about to sell a protected asset.
The Council is not receiving rent nor is it selling any asset.
Given the above statements, please can you present proof to NCFG of:
1. who owns the stand and why/how it may have changed hands?
The stand is a tenant’s fixture and which was offered by the outgoing club to another organisation. The Council did not pay for the stand nor did it seek permission for its erection and as such is happy to see the stand be dismantled providing due Planning process has been followed.
2. who has the authority to allow it to be dismantled and why?
As a tenant’s fixture, the out-going club was free to offer the stand to another organisation. The Council as Planning Authority has the authority to grant or otherwise planning permission for the stand to come down and indeed to be re-erected elsewhere so long as such re-erection lies within the LPA’s jurisdiction. A planning application was put in by HTFC, the application was determined on its own merits and permission was granted.
3. who is selling or releasing the stand and for how much?
Previous tenant is releasing the stand and the Council is not benefitting financially from the removal.
4. who has been in contact with HTFC, NFC or their representatives regarding the demolition?
As set out above in point K. and in Question 2, HTFC contacted WBC about the stand and similarly HTFC contacted WBC Planning about relevant consents.
5. the council’s intent to replace the stand, should it be removed.
The Council will not be replacing the stand should other parties take it away.
We have around 2000 local supporters through our online and paper petitions, around a 100 of whom attended our recent public consultation, who support NCFG’s efforts to enhance the ground for future use. They are all voting, West Berks constituents and would be keen to know what the ground’s landlord/building owner has to say, as would the Football Association, Sport England and HTFC (who regrettably find themselves in the centre of this controversy).
Your comments are noted.
To conclude, we believe that the stand cannot be touched until these questions have been answered with proper evidence by WBC so, as their main spokesperson on this matter, thank you in anticipation of your timely, full reply.
So long as any removal is not a financial transaction between parties, the Council is happy to see the stand dismantled and usefully re-erected elsewhere (subject to the requisite planning consent).
NCFG Deputy Chair