Volunteers want to take over the former Newbury FC ground so they can reopen it for local football teams.

The ground in Faraday Road has been 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 converting the ground into a public space that can be used until the land is needed for the redevelopment, and says the old clubhouse, toilets and part of the spectator stand must be demolished first.

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But a group of volunteers, known as Newbury Community Football Group, say they can reopen the ground to footballers and run it until February 2022, in a move that will cost the council just £27,000.

The group say the clubhouse could be fenced off and new goals and temporary toilets could be set up so the ground can be used until the council needs the land for the redevelopment.

They have submitted a 12-page plan to reopen ground, even though the Conservatives who run the council have already refused to postpone the demolition and reopen the ground to local football clubs.

Paul Morgan, from Newbury Community Football Group said: “We bring a thought-through detailed plan, which for a small cost enables the local community to access this much-loved football ground, even on a temporary basis.

“We have an army of volunteers ready to help clean it up, run it and maintain it too, if the council don’t want to.

The old football clubhouse

The old football clubhouse

“West Berkshire Council’s own Playing Pitch Strategy admits there is a massive shortfall of pitches in the area, so we hope they will support this opportunity to help provide the pitches the community needs.”

The council says “it is not appropriate” for anyone to play at the ground until the “potentially dangerous” clubhouse and other structures 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.

Speaking earlier this week, 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.

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“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.”

She also said Newbury FC has “successfully carried on playing at another venue” and no other football club has asked the council for help finding a pitch to play on.

The Conservative-run council also plans 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.