A plan to spend almost £200,000 on turning the former Newbury FC ground into a public space for the community has been described as “a total waste” of taxpayers’ money.

The ground in Faraday Road has stood empty since 2018, when the non-league club were evicted by West Berkshire Council, to make way for the London Road Industrial Estate redevelopment.

The council plans to spend £191,000 on demolishing the run-down facilities and converting the ground into a public space that can be used until the land is needed for the redevelopment.

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But Paul Morgan, chair of Newbury Community Football Group, said it will be “a total waste of money” and “something nobody wants or needs”.

He is calling for the council to reopen the ground so it can be used by football teams until February 2022.

“The council want to spend £191,000 on a temporary project that will have a lifespan of, at best, three months,” he said.

“It will deliver an empty plot with 123 car parking spaces and a general recreational space that no one wants.

“It cannot be delivered until December 2021 and will only be needed until March 2022.”

Newbury Football Club

Newbury Football Club

Mr Morgan said it will cost the council £27,000 to reopen the ground to footballers until February and the move would not jeopardise the council’s plans for the London Road Industrial Estate redevelopment.

He said: “We are not asking for them to relinquish any ownership – just let it be used for a short period of time, for a small amount of money.

“What they are suggesting is a complete and utter waste of public money.”

The council says “it is not appropriate” for anyone to play on the grass pitch until the “potentially dangerous” clubhouse and other structures at the ground have been demolished and it would cost £200,000 to repair them.

It is planning to demolish them by the end of the year, after bat surveys have been carried out.

A council spokeswoman said: “The sum mentioned – £191,000 – includes the demolition of the old clubhouse, lavatory block, old spectator stand concrete hard-standing and existing grass pitch boundary fence which is in very poor condition.

“The rest of the budget will create 80 new pay and display parking spaces and the public green space, which will be open to all residents of West Berkshire for several years, pending the redevelopment of the whole site.

“As the last tenant of the old football ground, Newbury Football Club has successfully carried on playing at another venue supported by the council and there is agreement that these arrangements can remain in place until delivery of the new facility.

“None of these proposals have any impact on any other football teams as they play at different locations.

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“The council has routinely requested that any football team in need of support to find a playing pitch should come forward and, to date, none have.”

The Conservative-run council also wants to construct a floodlight stadium with an artificial grass pitch, changing rooms and a function room at Newbury Rugby Club and open it in March 2022.

The council says it will “serve as a replacement” for the Faraday Road ground.

In December, the council agreed to press ahead with the redevelopment of London Road Industrial Estate, which has been in the pipeline since 2003.