THE vacant football ground in Newbury has been thrown a lifeline as developers say it could be saved from demolition.

Newbury FC was evicted from its football ground at Faraday Road in 2018, so developers could knock down the stadium and build flats in its place.

But legal issues meant the original plans were scrapped, and West Berkshire Council had to restart the whole process of redeveloping the run-down London Road Industrial Estate.

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Now, the new consultants tasked with the major redevelopment plan for the industrial estate have said the football ground could stay where it is, for the community to use.

Charles Trustram Eve, a director at consultants Avison Young, is leading the redevelopment project. He revealed the new plans while being quizzed by Newbury Town Council’s planning committee, at a public meeting on May 11.

He said: “One of the things we will look at is that the football ground remains in a community use as a sports facility. And therefore it isn’t redeveloped.”

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However, the council has told Avison Young to “assume” that replacement football ground will be found. But it is unclear if that will happen any time soon.

Councillors previously promised that no work would start on the Faraday Road football ground until a replacement pitch was found. And five years since Newbury FC were first told they would be evicted, the club still has nowhere in the town to play.

The coronavirus could disrupt the regeneration plans for the industrial estate, Mr Trustram Eve warned, in a similar way to how the financial crisis in 2008 caused major disruption to construction work across the country.

He said: “Suddenly everything that we had spent hours and months planning for, got changed overnight by what happened there. And I’m wondering quite what we will see in the brave new world after lockdown ceases.”

Full details of what options Avison Young sees for the redevelopment plans should be revealed in late June or early July.

The consultants are writing to people who live and work on the industrial estate, to ask them about their views or proposals for the area. But concerns were raised about how those people have been worried since the regeneration plans were first announced in 2005.

Councillor Vaughan Miller said: “My concern is that residents, businesses and tenants in that area have been blighted by this for the past 15 years, and are maybe subjected to five to 10 years of further blighting, worry and concern over this development.”

Mr Trustram Eve said: “We have written to local residents and businesses asking for their views and inviting them to contact us so that we can hear direct from those who live and work there. How do they see their futures developing, whether they’ve got proposals to carry out works.

“But we know that change will come. We’re not here with a mandate to look for change deliberately by forcing businesses to close or to move. We have been told there are difficulties in finding suitable alternative accommodation in many cases.”