Football club on look out for new home

THE FUTURE of one of Suffolk's oldest football clubs is in the spotlight after their ground was earmarked for a new housing estate.

Richard Smith

THE FUTURE of one of Suffolk's oldest football clubs is in the spotlight after their ground was earmarked for a new housing estate.

The home of Woodbridge Town has been identified as suitable land for a housing development under the Local Development Framework being drawn up by Suffolk Coastal District Council.

The football club plays at Notcutts Park, which was opened in 1990 when 3,000 spectators watched the club play an Arsenal XI.

The club, formed in 1885 and a founder member of the Suffolk County Football Association, first played at Farlingaye Hall and in the 1950s and 60s had five different venues.

It later played at Kingston field before establishing a new home at Notcutts Park, on the edge of Woodbridge.

Most Read

The short term future of Woodbridge Town, known as The Woodpeckers, is safe because the club has a lease until 2015 from the landowners, Notcutts.

But the company, which is redeveloping its garden centre site in Ipswich Road to include housing, also wants the club's ground to be used for more homes.

William Notcutt, managing director of Notcutts, confirmed that it had applied for the land to be zoned for housing.

He said: “The football club has a 25-year lease which expires in 2015 with the right to renew for a further 10 years - and Notcutts have the right to relocate it to another site in 2015 should they wish to do so.”

John Bennett, a life vice president of the football club, said it would be ''disastrous'' both for the club and the town if it had to move.

Mr Bennett said the club provided coaching for more than 300 boys and girls and it was effectively the biggest youth organisation in the town.

The bar and clubhouse were used by the community for numerous fundraising and private functions and the club had made its home at Nocutts Park after years of being “shifted from pillar to post,” he said.

The club's future was discussed by Woodbridge Town Council and former mayor Nigel Barratt said: “There are no sports facilities in the town, the construction of a sports hall did not happen and the rugby club had to move out (to Bromeswell). The football club will have to move or completely disappear.

“Now that we know that the landowner has applied for housing, it is appropriate that the council should make its views felt on sports and leisure.”

The new mayor, Les Binns, said: “This council supports the football club and that it retains the ground or else it is found a suitable alternative within the Woodbridge envelope.”

The town council voted to inform the district council that the football club site should be retained as a sports facility.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter