05:00PM, Thursday 26 November 2020
Maidenhead United could be allowed to buy 3.7 hectares of land at Braywick Park from the Royal Borough for £460,000 to build a bigger stadium.
The football club is looking to move from its current site on York Road, despite concerns from Maidenhead Rugby Club, which is already at Braywick Park.
Both Maidenhead Athletic Club and SportsAble centre for disability sport have expressed their enthusiasm for the scheme.
If the project gets under way, the football club intends to install an athletics track, as well as a gym and sports area fully compliant with the needs of SportsAble’s members.
Last December, the football club’s request for relocation was approved, subject to a formal evaluation of the Braywick site.
Speaking at the corporate overview and scrutiny panel on Tuesday evening, Barbara Richardson, managing director of RBWM Property Company, brought councillors up to speed.
It has now been proposed that 3.7 hectares of space should be released and sold at its market value of £460,000, on a 999-year lease. This had been calculated on the basis that it is on the greenbelt.
“We would look to hold on to a caveat that, should it ever cease to be a football club, the land would come back to the council,” said Ms Richardson.
The sale is also dependent on whether or not the football club receives planning permission to build on the site, which is handled by a separate arm of the Royal Borough.
Councillor Lyne Jones (OWRA, Old Windsor) queried the fact that, as of yet, there has been no consultation by the council with those who have a vested interest in the site. The only consultation thus far has been carried out by the football club itself.
“Isn’t it the responsibility of the council to undertake a consultation with current stakeholders?” she asked. “I think the council has a social responsibility to community groups already existing.”
Ms Richardson clarified that the council will be carrying out its own consultation but that there is ‘not much point’ consulting before the council knows for certain if it is prepared to sell the land to the football club.
Cllr Jones also raised concerns about the density of the overall developments in the park. “I’m concerned that there’s going to be a lot on this space,” she said. “Braywick won’t really be an open space anymore.”
Ms Richardson replied that, after the release of 3.7 hectares, ‘some considerable space’ will remain and the move should improve access and reduce traffic through town.
“Transport for the stadium that currently comes directly into the town centre won’t be coming into the town centre [anymore] because it will stop at the A308,” she said.
Councillor Julian Sharpe (Con, Ascot and Sunninghill) raised the issue of the borough’s financial situation.
“We made a decision on this last year and I’m not sure given the current situation [re] COVID whether we would actually make the same decision again,” he said.
Though Ms Richardson reiterated that the cost of the development would not be incurred by the council, Cllr Sharpe added: “It would seem that the club are still getting a very good deal out of this. Is that the right thing to be doing at this point in time?”
The council’s consultation is set to take place between December 15-February 28.
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