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Woodbridge: New joint home proposed for football and cricket clubs

PUBLISHED: 10:09 01 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:55 01 August 2014

Woodbridge Town entertain Newmarket Town at Notcutts Park.

Woodbridge Town entertain Newmarket Town at Notcutts Park.

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Ambitious proposals could see two Suffolk sports grounds merge to make room for more than 100 new homes.

Plans have been unveiled for a new venue to accommodate Woodbridge Town Football Club and Melton-based St Audry’s Sports and Social Club.

The move, agreed between Hopkins Homes and Notcutts, would see both clubs operate from the garden centre firm’s old nursery site in Yarmouth Road, Ufford.

It would free up land for some 95 properties at the current Notcutts Park home of Woodbridge Town FC, while creating space for 12 homes at the St Audry’s site - home to Melton St Audry’s cricket and football teams, as well as a sports and social club, near Hopkins Homes’ Melton Park development.

Woodbridge Town FC will hold an extraordinary meeting in September to vote on the proposals, while St Audrys Sports and Social Club and the cricket club have already voted in favour of the move.

The football club, known as The Woodpeckers, was formed in 1885 and moved in 1990 to Notcutts Park, where it has a lease until 2015 from the landowners.

The new site would provide both clubs a long-term 99-year lease and an initial 10-year rent free period.

Mayor of Woodbridge and former district council leisure chief, Geoff Holdcroft said the move could help protect the future of the town’s football club.

Mr Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s current planning chief, said: “I broadly welcome the proposals from a leisure perspective but they will still have to go through the appropriate planning procedures.

“The club could otherwise be in grave jeopardy. A long-term lease and 10 years rent free is a very good offer.”

Mr Holdcroft compared the potential benefits of a move to the establishment of a permanent home for Woodbridge Rugby Club at in Bromeswell in 1974. He said the rugby club had since gone “from strength to strength.”

John Beecroft, Woodbridge Town FC chairman, called it an “exciting development” for the club. “The board are very supportive of the move,” he added.

Nick Shrubshall, Melton St Audrys CC chairman, said: “We’re delighted about the prospect of moving to a new improved home. This will allow us to fulfil our ambitious agenda for the future of the clubs.”

Proposals to develop the vacated land comprise 95 homes, including affordable housing, a community building and an open space at Notcutts Park, with a smaller development of 12 family homes at St Audry’s.

At Yarmouth Road, development would include new football and cricket pitches and nets, a social club and changing rooms and possibly an all-weather multi-use games area.

Simon Bryan, development director at Hopkins Homes, said that talking to the clubs and their members had been the essential first step in the consultation process, ahead of full public consultation and exhibitions scheduled for late September.

Geof Butterwick, chairman of the planning and transport committee on Melton Parish Council, welcomed early engagement shown by Hopkins Homes. He said: “This is clearly a complex proposal, involving directly or indirectly four parishes and with wider ramifications than a typical development proposal. Melton Parish Council will play a full part in the forthcoming public consultation process and will form a judgement on the planning applications when they are submitted, which I do not expect to be before the New Year.”

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