The following media release issued jointly by West Berkshire Council and Newbury Rugby Club on 6 January 2021 and is published here verbatim. Below this is a statement from the Newbury Community Football Group, also reproduced verbatim. If any other relevant organisation wishes to add its opinions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the comments box at the foot of the post for shorter observations.
West Berkshire Council and Newbury Rugby Club
Newbury Rugby Club has been identified as the preferred site for a new sports facility in the town.
West Berkshire Council and Newbury Rugby Club have already held preliminary discussions about building the new sports facility on part of the site in Monks Lane. Next week, the Council’s Executive will meet to consider a recommendation that formal discussions with Newbury Rugby Club begin, with the aim of opening the sports facility in March 2022.
Under the proposals, the new facility will include a high-quality artificial grass pitch, stadium, floodlights, changing room as well as a function room. The facility will be available for community use for rugby, football and other sports and activities.
The new facility will help deliver the Council’s Playing Pitch Strategy, and will provide a Step 6 facility – which means teams will have the facilities needed to play in higher leagues. It will also serve as a replacement for the Faraday Road Sports Ground, which closed ahead of the regeneration of the London Road Industrial Estate.
West Berkshire Council will be holding a consultation to seek the public’s views on the proposal to develop a new sports ground with Newbury Rugby Club. Details of the consultation, which will be open for six weeks, will be available on the Council’s consultation portal: https://info.westberks.gov.uk/consultations. Once open, details will also be published on the Council’s social media channels. You can now sign up to receive updates about our work on the new sports ground direct to your inbox – which will include details of the consultation once it goes live.
Speaking about the proposals Councillor Howard Woollaston, Executive Member for Leisure and Culture said: “Having spent some time looking for a site for a new sports ground I’m delighted we now have somewhere which could meet the community’s needs. It will provide improved sports facilities for local sports groups and will be capable of hosting higher level competitive football and rugby matches, as well as year-round training.
“It is a site for the whole community, for amateur as well as more professional teams and able to be used for a wide variety of sports. We want to encourage more opportunities for people to take part in physical activity and this will help provide new options for exercise for people who enjoy sports.”
David Jones, President of Newbury Rugby Club said: “As landlord, Newbury Rugby Club will be seeking to underline our continued objective to be a key community sports club for Newbury and surrounding area, developing modern facilities and improving our long term sustainability. We are very supportive of the councils objective to offer sporting opportunities for all age groups locally and we already have 600 playing members at the club. The proposal from the Council, we hope, will align with the continued development of rugby and the wider development of sport in the Newbury area.”
Newbury Community Football Group (NCFG)
NCFG wholeheartedly and unreservedly supports any scheme that provides additional and improved sports opportunities for the population of Newbury and West Berkshire.
We have read the associated report produced by Paul Anstey entitled Newbury Sports Ground Update and look forward to seeing the details that describes exactly what the facility will provide and how it will be managed and operated and by whom. These details will be required to enable the public to provide meaningful input on the proposal as part of the consultation process. We would also be keen to understand the details and timescales of the alternative options that will be provided if, for whatever reason, this latest proposal is not deliverable. Hopefully Sport England and the FA have been provided with these details to enable them to ascertain whether the proposal meets the requirements for a replacement facility, “of equivalent or better quality, and of equivalent or greater quantity, and subject to equivalent or better accessibility and management arrangements”.
The press release states that the aim is to have the new sports facility opened in March 2022 and it is “somewhere which could meet the community’s needs.” We genuinely hope that this is the case and we once again request that the Council makes the sensible decision to re-open the Faraday Road Football Ground for organised football matches until a new facility is actually operational.
We are also encouraged that the Council will be holding consultation to seek the public’s views on the proposal as it is vital that after so much time, public concern and controversy that the selected solution does actually meet the needs and requirements of the football community and the governing sports bodies. With this announcement we now have the chance to get everyone on board and NCFG will be formally writing to the Leader of the Council to request that a (virtual) meeting is set up with the objective of establishing a working party that ensures that this proposal and/or any alternative option/s satisfies or exceeds the needs and requirements for the premier future football facility in Newbury.