Sport England: The Camrose Site

Basingstoke town FC News

Below is a a letter from Owen Neal, Planning Manager at Sport England regarding the current situation at the Camrose site.

( Source: https://pad.basingstoke.gov.uk/documents/4753/01/23/56/01235681.PDF)

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Dear Sue
Thank you for your email.

I believe it is helpful to clarify the current position. The Camrose stadium was a Ground Graded Category C stadium pitch which included associated ancillary facilities connected with the use of the ground for football. It also comprised two floodlit artificial grass pitches (the northernmost pitch is approx. 40m x 30m and the southernmost pitch is approx. 40m x 20m) as well as an adult sized 11 x 11 grass football stadium pitch.

It should be noted that the delivery of the full size AGP at Winklebury was a separate stand-alone project as identified in Basingstoke and Deane’s Playing Pitch Strategy. It was in no way linked to the re-provision of facilities at Camrose. It was agreed as a pragmatic solution for Basingstoke Town FC, given that they had been displaced from the Camrose site, to upgrade and enhance facilities at Winklebury to provide an equivalent Ground Grading Category C facility to enable the club to move back to Basingstoke (the club is currently groundsharing in Winchester). It is understood that some additional ground works were required to the AGP facility at Winklebury at the outset of construction to future-proof the facility to enable it to be developed at a future point in time as a Category C ground.

These works amounted to approximately £58,000 paid for by the football club as I understand. It should be noted that it is understood that further funds of approximately £150,000 have been provided by Basingstoke and Deane Council to bring the Winklebury site up to a Category D ground (the level at which the club currently play at). This will enable the club to move to Winklebury for the 2020-21 season. It is therefore arguable that the applicant has already benefited from not having to contribute to works amounting to over £200,000 to upgrade facilities at Winklebury to ensure the football club can return to Basingstoke.

The proposed further enhancements/upgrades to the Winklebury facilities that will be provided and funded by Basron will bring them upto a Ground Grading category C standard which will provide equivalence with the Ground Grading at Camrose. On that basis, Sport England is content with the long-stop date of 31 July 2021 for the completion of these works. We would ask that these works are carried out at a time which minimises disruption to users of the Winklebury site, that is during the off-season (from May/June – August).

We do consider that an additional requirement is needed which prevents any development on site until the upgrades/enhancements at Winklebury are completed and available for use. So while the long-stop date of 31 July 2021 provides a degree of certainty over when the works must be completed, we wouldn’t support a situation where development could begin at Camrose before the necessary works are completed at Winklebury.

Furthermore, it is considered that under app ref: 19/01110/OUT the practice artificial grass pitches at the Camrose site will also be affected by the proposed development. At least one of the practice facilities falls within the red line boundary and will be lost, the other practice facility falls outside the application site and could be retained. However, it is likely that the proposal under app ref: 19/01110/OUT may well prejudice its use give the close proximity to the proposed housing in addition to the practicalities of managing; maintaining and accessing the facility in this location.

Sport England considers that it would be best to make a suitable financial contribution to either new facilities or enhancements to existing facilities in the Basingstoke area.

A 61m x 43m football AGP (2,623 sqm) is listed as £395,000 capital cost. The combined loss of the 3G AGP practice facilities is approximately 2,000 sqm. On that basis, a contribution of £300,000 towards similar facilities would be equitable. The actual cost will obviously depend on a range of local factors. Sport England is happy to time any trigger for such provision/contribution ‘at the commencement of development’ as indicated in your email below.

Sport England further considers that as it currently stands while there is proposed mitigation for the loss of the ancillary provision needed to ensure the provision of a replacement Ground Grading category C facility through upgrades and enhancements to the existing Winklebury site and there is agreement that compensatory provision or a financial contribution is needed to mitigate the loss of the artificial grass practice facilities, there is no proposed mitigation for the loss of the actual playing field/grass playing pitch at the Camrose site. The pitch is a full size adult 11×11 grass playing pitch.

Sport England therefore considers that an additional contribution should also be provided to compensate for the loss of this area of playing field. It should be noted that the applicant is benefitting from the development of an existing facility. Additional demand from the displacement of Basingstoke Town FC’s teams will have to be accommodated by the Winklebury AGP and will result in the loss of capacity and capability at the site to accommodate other community clubs. We are already aware that Hampshire FA who run the Winklebury facilities cannot meet all the requests for match slots at the weekend on the 3G pitch. We therefore consider it reasonable that a further contribution should be made to compensate for the loss of match play capacity at the Camrose site; the displacement effect and increase in demand this is having on existing local facilities.

Again, referring to our design cost guidance above, a senior grass football pitch is listed as having a capital cost of £100,000. Sport England is therefore seeking an additional financial contribution of that order from the applicant to invest in new facilities or enhance existing facilities to compensate for the loss of matchplay capacity at the site.

I should add that we do not consider that Basingstoke and Deane’s Playing Pitch Strategy (2015) now represents a current and robust assessment of need having been developed around 5 years ago. That said, the FA; Football Foundation and the District Council have been developing a Basingstoke and Deane Local Football Facility Plan (LFFP) which is at an advanced stage. This identifies a need for new and enhanced football facilities in the area as well as potential projects and sites for investment.

We recommend that any investment in facilities is linked to the LFFP in the absence of an up to date Playing Pitch Strategy.

In relation to the County Highways application (app ref:

I look forward to hearing from you.

Owen Neal 

Planning Manager

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