SPORT ENGLAND has released a damning report demanding that Basron pay over half a million pounds in compensation for the loss of the Camrose ground.
They say that they have already benefitted from not paying for upgrades to Winklebury that will allow the club to return to the town, after being exiled in Winchester.
As previously reported in the Gazette, Sport England objected to plans for a housing development and a care home on the site of the historic ground.
This came to a head last week when Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council objected to a Hampshire County Council scheme to build a road through the pitch. They cited the Sport England objection that the scheme would result in the destruction of “existing cultural and leisure facilities without satisfactorily demonstrating that sufficient and alternative provision has been made”.
Now, Sport England have reiterated their objection to the housing development, and listed multiple reasons why Basron should pay compensation for the loss of the facilities.
They say that Basron “has already benefited from not having to contribute to works amounting over £200,000 to upgrade facilities at Winklebury to ensure the football club can return to Basingstoke”.
In a bid to return to the town, Basingstoke Town Football Club has secured the use of the Hampshire FA headquarters on Winklebury Way for next season. However, significant upgrades are needed to get the ground from grade F, which it is now, to grade D, the necessary standard for their current level. There is also a demand from fans for a like-for-like replacement of the Camrose, which is grade C.
Sport England say that the £58,000 improvements made to Winklebury which was paid for by the club and a further £150,000 given to them by the borough council earlier this year have meant that Basron have benefited.
They added that these improvements were “a separate stand-alone project”, and was “in no way linked to the re-provision of the Camrose facilities”, giving hope to the campaign for a new stadium to be built in the town.
The report, penned by Sport England’s planning manager Owen Neal, goes on to request that Basron contribute £300,000 for the loss of the Camrose pitch, plus the two practice pitches situated behind it, and another £100,000 for the loss of capacity at Winklebury caused by Basingstoke Town’s various teams having to relocate there.
According to the letter, Hampshire FA “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.”
They say the money should be used to build new facilities or enhance existing ones.