Football boss bemused by council offer

THE chairman of Braintree Town Football Club has said he is “bemused” by claims a “momentous decision” has been reached about redevelopment plans. The Cressing Road club is hoping to sell two thirds of an acre of land for housing development which would have helped generate £600,000 for vital improvements to the ground.

THE chairman of Braintree Town Football Club has said he is “bemused” by claims a “momentous decision” has been reached about redevelopment plans.

The Cressing Road club is hoping to sell two thirds of an acre of land for housing development which would have helped generate £600,000 for vital improvements to the ground.

But the scheme ran into difficulties when Braintree District Council said 60% of the 35 flats to be built at the club's car park would have to be affordable housing, causing the developers, Constable Homes, to say it was no longer financially viable.

But this week the council agreed to relax its planning concessions, dropping the figure for affordable housing to 30%.


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Corporate director at the council Peter Crofts said: “This is a momentous decision for the club and shows how far this council is prepared to go to support the local community.

“We have carefully balanced conflicting demands and now have a result which will give the club everything it needs to move forward, on and off the pitch.”

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As part of the £1million land sale the council is taking £400,000 to release the covenant on the land.

But Braintree chairman Lee Harding said demands for more money since earlier this year had placed the deal in jeopardy.

He said: “We are now in a situation where we will have to reconsider what this means and whether we sell the land.

“Over the course of the past two months Braintree council have conjured up an additional £61,000 of financial requirements (for the club to pay).

“Colchester council is borrowing about £14million for the plans for its stadium - we did not want a penny off the council.

“I am bemused by the council's statement. I am amazed that the council have tried to turn this into a success story. Look at Colchester, Chelmsford, and Harlow football clubs - they have had enormous support from the local authorities.

“The question we have to ask is 'are they treating their local football club in the same that other local authorities treat theirs?'”

In a statement, the council said concessions had been made on highways, open space, play equipment, which it said had saved the club more than £65,000.

It said: “In effect, the cash difference in these concessions will be paid for out of the council's dividend from the sale of the land.

“The council has to balance three long term aspects to this neighbourhood - the future prospects of the club as an important, successful and popular local facility; the duty to receive a proper value from the land, which stands to be sold for more than 20 times the original covenanted figure asked by the council in 1995; and the need to ensure that future residents of the new flats are provided with proper open space, car parking and play area for children.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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