New homes bid moves ahead as groundshare backed by football club members

Action from Benhall St Mary v Ipswich Athletic at Notcutts Park, Woodbridge, in April. Picture: Steve Waller

Action from Benhall St Mary v Ipswich Athletic at Notcutts Park, Woodbridge, in April. Picture: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

A move to merge two Suffolk sports grounds and make way for 100 new homes has gained momentum after winning a significant – and overwhelming – ‘yes’ vote.

Almost nine in 10 members of Woodbridge Town Football Club voted to share new home turf with Melton St Audry’s Sports and Social Club.

The proposals, agreed between Hopkins Homes and Notcutts, would see both clubs operate from the garden centre firm’s old nursery site in Yarmouth Road, Ufford – freeing up land for more than 100 homes across both vacated grounds.

An extraordinary general meeting was this week staged at Woodbridge Town’s current Notcutts Park home, where 175 of 197 members voted in favour of the move – already backed by counterparts from St Audry’s.

It would make way for some 95 properties at Notcutts Park, while creating space for 12 houses at the home of St Audry’s cricket and football teams, along with a sports and social club, near Hopkins Homes’ Melton Park development.


You may also want to watch:


Hopkins Homes said it will now be progressing with detailed plans for the three sites, with the clubs able to move into their new homes within the next two to three years, if the application is approved.

Woodbridge Town chairman, John Beecroft said: “The plans have developed but they are by no means finalised.

Most Read

“There are still hurdles to get over and we must make sure the plans are right for our members.”

Mr Beecroft said the future of the existing clubhouse at Notcutts Park would continue to be a key concern.

“We voted in favour of the move based on certain things being done correctly,” he added.

“Members who helped build this clubhouse fear it may disappear if there are no plans for it to stay. The developer will have to build a community building but there is no guarantee it will be the same.

“It’s a landmark that a lot of effort has been put into, and I would like to see it reconstructed for community use.”

The redevelopment of the 22-acre site in Ufford will give the club’s almost 17 acres for football and cricket, including artificial 3G playing surfaces.

Woodbridge Town FC has been at its current home since 1990, with a lease from the landowners until this year.

Mr Beecroft said other possible locations had been considered in recent years but were not deemed as practical as the Ufford site, which would provide both clubs a 99-year lease and initial 10-year rent free period.

“Our current home had a 25-year lease with a 10-year option but Notcutts ideally wants the land back.

“Woodbridge is almost landlocked by the A12 but the Ufford site is available and accessible without us having to move to the other side of the road.”

Nick Shrubshall, Melton St Audrys CC chairman, said: “We voted to go along with the proposals in principle, as long as we get at least what we have now. We want to get it right, and feel that if it can improve our facilities, that’s the main thing. We would now like to see the finalised ideas for the layout.”

Robert Eburne, planning manager at Hopkins Homes, said: “We are very pleased that Woodbridge Town FC has joined Melton St Audry’s in supporting the move to a new facility and we will now be progressing with detailed plans for the three sites involved. If that is approved we hope that the clubs can move into their new homes within the next two to three years.”

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
Comments powered by Disqus