Fresh hope for future of football club ground near A14
PUBLISHED: 17:37 31 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:37 31 January 2020
Proposals to secure the future of Stowmarket Football Club's ground - and unlock major funding from the FA - are to be considered by a Suffolk council.
Cabinet members at Mid Suffolk District Council are to discuss plans next week which would see a new lease granted to the club for the next 50 years.
It would provide the club with the necessary security of knowing they can use the council-owned land - and allow them to attract funding from the Football Association to improve the ground and its facilities.
The council owns around 60% of the club's pitch and grounds at Bury Road, Stowmarket, while Stowmarket Church Charity owns the remaining 40%, plus surrounding flood land near the River Gipping and under the A14.
"This proposal ensures the football club can thrive in the future - something that's not only great news for the club and the youngsters, adults and families who use it, but also for the wider community and for Stowmarket itself," said Peter Gould, responsible for assets and investment at the council.
"As well as securing the best possible outcome for the future of the football club, this is also a responsible way of reducing the council's expenditure and coming up with the fairest possible solution for everyone involved."
The current lease, which allows the club to use the land, expires in March 2025 - and without certainty over the future, it is unable to secure investment from the FA to provide more covered seating, and improve changing/toilet facilities on site.
The council has held talks with Stowmarket Community Sports & Social Club Community Interest Company (incorporating Stowmarket Football Club) and Stowmarket Church Charity for several months.
Pending agreement by cabinet, the council could grant Stowmarket CIC a new lease for 50 years at a peppercorn rent.
It is also proposing subleasing the church land to the CIC but with the council continuing to pay the annual cost of £11,000 to the church charity until the current lease expires in 2025 - allowing time for both parties to agree future terms.