Woodbridge Town FC is once again seeking a new home

Woodbridge Town Football Club (WTFC) has conducted two recent meetings with representatives from Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) to discuss the lease of our current ground at Notcutts Park and the eventual and inevitable relocation of the football club.

Firstly, for the benefit of members who may be unaware, it is prudent to clarify some historical information.

 

On the 20th of March 1990, the owner of the land of the football ground that we know as Notcutts Park, (Notcutts Nurseries Limited) granted a lease of their land to SCDC for a period of 25 years from the 1st January 1990 (the Head Lease). This included an option for the renewal of the Head Lease for a further term of 10 years. On 30th July 1990 WTFC signed a lease (the Underlease) with SCDC for the lease of the land for a period of 25 years. The 25 year lease expired on 31st December 2014.

 

Prior to the expiry of the Underlease, WTFC were made aware of proposals for a scheme to develop Notcutts Park for housing which included the relocation of WTFC to another Notcutts site with a lease of land in Ufford for a period of 99 years.

In October 2014 the housing developers involved, Hopkins Homes, held public exhibitions at WTFC and St Audrys Sports & Social Club to showcase the proposals for housing development and the new sports club.

 

After detailed plans for the new site and clubhouse facilities at Ufford became available, WTFC members were asked to vote on the proposed relocation to a new site in Ufford and in October 2015, WTFC members voted unanimously in favour.

The proposed timeline for the scheme, subject to planning permission, suggested a 2018/2019 relocation of WTFC to the new site at Ufford.

However, between 2015 and 2017 no planning permission for the scheme was submitted, nor was further information on the scheme, made publicly available.

In November 2017 WTFC held a meeting with representatives of SCDC, to request assurances or otherwise from all parties concerned, regarding the future of the scheme, to enable WTFC to conduct prudent forward planning regarding the future of the club and its current venue.

At a further meeting between SCDC and WTFC in February 2018, WTFC were finally given confirmation that the scheme to relocate WTFC to the Notcutts site Ufford was, as we had suspected, was no longer under consideration. 

The landowner of Notcutts Park (Notcutts Nurseries Limited) has now proposed a new lease to SCDC beginning 1st January 2015 to 31st December 2022 with an option of extending the term to a final date of 31st December 2024 should it be excersied.

 

So what does all this mean to WTFC?
WTFC are obviously keen to remain in a secure tenancy of Notcutts Park until 2022 (or 2024 if necessary), and have indicated as such to SCDC, to enable WTFC to seek and procure an alternative venue for the football club.

WTFC are now tasked with locating potential and suitable sites for the relocation of the football club before December 2024.

 
WTFC are currently engaged in the process of identifying possible sites, at this stage, without consultation, and would welcome offers of assistance from club members and the wider Woodbridge community in identifying potential sites for the relocation of the football club after (or before) December 2024.

WTFC request an urgent meeting over lack of progress on proposed ground move

06 December 2017

Over two years have now passed since WTFC members voted in favour of the proposed scheme to relocate WTFC to a new purpose built venue in Ufford as part of a scheme for housing development on our current site at Notcutts Park.

 

Since then, although dialogue has continued between WTFC and all parties concerned, a lack of information in the public domain, in particular over recent months, has inevitably caused concern among WTFC members over a perceived lack of progress concerning the scheme.

 

Following a recent meeting held in late November 2017 between WTFC and representatives of Suffolk Coastal District Council, WTFC have now requested an urgent meeting, either this December or early January 2018 with SCDC, Notcutts and Hopkins Homes present, to seek assurances or otherwise from all parties concerned regarding the scheme, to enable WTFC to conduct prudent forward planning regarding the future of the club and its current venue.

As soon as this meeting is conducted, further updates will appear on this page.  

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

21 October 2015

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/new-homes-bid-moves-ahead-as-groundshare-backed-by-football-club-members-1-4278103

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.

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.

“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.”

Result of voting on Monday 19th October 2015

 

Result of voting on at the EGM on Monday 19th October 2015 on the proposed move to a new facility at Ufford

 

Member Type              Eligible to vote         Voted                 Turnout

Honorary                             15                        11                        73%

Family                                  14                        8                         57%

Staff                                       2                        1                         50%

Concessionary                    63                       28                      44%

Complementary                  34                        13                      38%

Adult                                    44                        11                       25%

Youth Section                     534                      121                     23%

Veterans                              12                         2                       17%

Player                                   25                        1                         4%

 

Total                                      743                     197                     26.5%

 

 

Result                                    89% voted in favour

                                               11% voted against

Club Members to vote on proposed move

01 September 2015

A letter was circulated to all club members advising of an Extraordinary General Meeting at which club members would have the opportunity to vote on the proposal for the club to move from its existing site at Notcutts Park to a new venue in Ufford 

Dear Club Member,

RE: Our proposed move to a newly built facility at Ufford

Please find enclosed a leaflet listing the most frequently asked questions regarding the football club’s proposed move to a new facility at Ufford. I am sure there may well be other questions you may wish to ask, so you are invited to come along to the club on Friday 16th October 2015 at 7.45pm, when we hold an informal evening of questions and answers.

Monday 19th October 2015 is perhaps the most important date in the recent history of Woodbridge Town F.C., when an Emergency General Meeting (for club members only) will be held at the Club, at 8.00pm.

At this meeting, a paper ballot vote will take place on the proposed move to Ufford. Please note you will only be permitted to attend and vote, by producing your membership card, at registration on arrival.

The meeting will begin with an address from the Management Board, after which you will be asked to vote, by placing a ballot paper into one of the ballot boxes. When voting has finished, there will be an interval for the votes to be counted, after which, the result will be declared.

 

The future of our football club, depends on the result of the vote at the E.G.M. on Monday 19th October, therefore I ask you all to make every effort to attend.

J.P.Beecroft - Chairman

Why is the club considering a move from its current site at Notcutts Park?
In 1990, Suffolk Coastal District Council agreed a 25 year lease (the head lease) of the land on which the football club currently stands, with the landowner, Notcutts Nurseries Ltd. In the same year, Woodbridge Town F.C. and Suffolk Coastal District Council agreed a 25 year lease (the under lease) for the football club's use of the site.  This year, 2015, both leases expired. The head lease (between Notcutts and SCDC) also contained an option for SCDC to renew (the head lease) following its expiry in 2015 for a further period of 10 years.

Does the club have to move from its current site?
Not immediately. SCDC has to option to extend the head lease until the year 2024, however at the end of this 10 year period, the landowner is currently unwilling to grant a new lease to SCDC, meaning the football club will then be required to purchase or lease a new site.

 

Why is the club considering a move outside of the town of Woodbridge? 
The town of Woodbridge is landlocked between the A12 and the River Deben. A glance at a town plan or Google Earth, immediately indicates that no land of a suitable acreage is available between the two. The only other land within the town boundaries is a small portion of farmland on the opposite side of the A12 to the Peterhouse estate. Other farmland on the opposite side of the A12 includes land in the parishes of Great Bealings, Hasketon and Bredfield. Notcutts Nurseries Ltd wishes to sell the current football club site to Hopkins Homes Ltd., for housing development. As part of the redevelopment it is proposed that the football club moves to land owned by Notcutts in Ufford which would be made available to the football club for a lease period of 99 years. Although outside of the boundaries of the town of Woodbridge the proposed site at Ufford is 2.4 miles from Woodbridge Town Centre (the Turban Centre) compared to the 1.5 miles current distance from the town centre to Notcutts Park. 

 

What facilities will the proposed new site at Ufford offer?
The proposed site at Ufford will include all of the facilities the club currently enjoys at Notcutts Park. Provision for two football pitches (including an enclosed floodlit competition pitch), car parking, a clubhouse with four changing rooms, bar and function area. A full size floodlit 3G pitch also forms part of the proposal.

 

What benefits will the proposed new site at Ufford bring the club?
Perhaps most importantly, the proposed 99 year lease would provide the club with a secure home for generations to come, security the club has never once enjoyed in its 130 year history. The proposed 3G pitch will provide the club with its own suitable area for training, also a first in 130 years, meaning all Woodbridge Town teams will no longer be required to source and hire external training facilities, which currently costs the club in the region of £15000 per annum.
   
Why does the proposed site at Ufford include facilities for Cricket?
An integral part the redevelopment plan is for additional homes to be built on the Melton St Audry's sports ground, land already owned by Hopkins Homes, meaning Melton St Audry's Cricket Club are also in need of relocation. Moving both Woodbridge Football Club and Melton St Audrys Cricket Club to the same site would be beneficial to both, as a sports facility that will be in use for all 12 months of the year.

 

What will happen if we choose to remain at Notcutts Park?
Notcutts Nurseries Ltd have advised SCDC that should the ten year option to extend the head lease be taken, the annual rent to SCDC, and in turn to WTFC, would double from its current £5000 per annum to £10000 per annum. It will already be clear to those members who attended the recent A.G.M., and previous A.G.M.'s, that the football club's finances deteriorate year on year and that the club's current business model is unsustainable. Without the benefit of implementing a new business plan on a new site, it is highly likely that Woodbridge Town F.C., in its current form, will be forced to cease trading and fold.  

Developer vows to take heed of sports club move issues

04 October 2014

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/woodbridge-melton-developer-vows-to-take-heed-of-sports-club-move-issues-1-3793891

 

(Pictured left) Simon Bryan, from Hopkins Homes, talks through plans with local resident Terence Fogarty at the first public exhibition of the proposal to create a new home for Woodbridge Town FC and St Audrys Sports and Social Club, as well as new housing for Woodbridge and Melton.


Plans to create a new home for two Suffolk sports clubs and make way for more than 100 homes have been scrutinised by members of the public for the first time.

Proposals to move Woodbridge Town Football Club and St Audry’s Sports and Social Club to a joint venue in Ufford went on display at the Woodpeckers’ Notcutts Park home, and at the venue now used by St Audry’s football and cricket clubs.

Hopkins Homes unveiled its plans to develop the land vacated by Woodbridge Town for about 95 homes, including affordable housing, a community building and open space, and for a smaller development of 12 family homes planned at the current St Audry’s site in Melton.

A new home for both clubs is proposed at the old Notcutts nursery site in Yarmouth Road, Ufford.

Woodbridge mayor and district planning chief Geoff Holdcroft was among those to look over plans at Notcutts Park on the edge of town. He said: “I spent a couple of hours there and spoke to an awful lot of residents who seemed mostly in broad agreement with my position. They either welcomed or were accepting of the housing, with the proviso that traffic issues during construction and upon completion are solved.

“There are concerns about traffic at the Duke of York corner which must be addressed by the provision of another access or other unspecified means. “The developer is carrying out a full consultation and these things are not set in stone, but this must be something that meets the needs of the football club and the residents.“I have been clear from an early stage that some public space must be retained, as should a community centre in the form of either the existing football club building or a new building. That is an absolute given as far as I’m concerned.” Mr Holdcroft said the plans were in “stark contrast” to a proposal for 250 homes by Gladman Developments for Duke’s Park in Woodbridge, which he said offered “absolutely no merit whatsoever” when they were revealed in August.

A spokesman for Hopkins Homes said the exhibition had provided an opportunity for the public to make comments on the proposals and put questions to the developer. He said: “The events were very busy, with 170 people at Notcutts Park and 140 at St Audry’s. “In Woodbridge there was a lot of interest from local residents who said they had no problem with the prospect of housing but that they had concerns about traffic and the single access road proposed. “At St Audry’s, some had questions about traffic on narrow roads, while others wanted to know more about the sports facilities planned, which they generally considered to be a good thing.“Listening to these concerns is all part of the consultation. The whole purpose is to help people understand what, how and why we are making these proposals, and to answer their questions as best we can.”

Following consultation, surveys will be carried out and a detailed proposal drawn up and submitted at the beginning of next year.
 

New joint home proposed for football and cricket clubs

01 August 2014

 

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/woodbridge-new-joint-home-proposed-for-football-and-cricket-clubs-1-3708662

 

Plans have been unveiled for a new venue to accommodate Woodbridge Town Football Club and Melton-based St Audry’s Sports and Social Club.

The move, agreed between Hopkins Homes and Notcutts, would see both clubs operate from the garden centre firm’s old nursery site in Yarmouth Road, Ufford.

It would free up land for some 95 properties at the current Notcutts Park home of Woodbridge Town FC, while creating space for 12 homes at the St Audry’s site - home to Melton St Audry’s cricket and football teams, as well as a sports and social club, near Hopkins Homes’ Melton Park development.

Woodbridge Town FC will hold an extraordinary meeting in September to vote on the proposals, while St Audrys Sports and Social Club and the cricket club have already voted in favour of the move.

 

The football club, known as The Woodpeckers, was formed in 1885 and moved in 1990 to Notcutts Park, where it has a lease until 2015 from the landowners. The new site would provide both clubs a long-term 99-year lease and an initial 10-year rent free period.

 

Mayor of Woodbridge and former district council leisure chief, Geoff Holdcroft said the move could help protect the future of the town’s football club.

Mr Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s current planning chief, said: “I broadly welcome the proposals from a leisure perspective but they will still have to go through the appropriate planning procedures.

“The club could otherwise be in grave jeopardy. A long-term lease and 10 years rent free is a very good offer.” Mr Holdcroft compared the potential benefits of a move to the establishment of a permanent home for Woodbridge Rugby Club at in Bromeswell in 1974. He said the rugby club had since gone “from strength to strength.”

 

John Beecroft, Woodbridge Town FC chairman, called it an “exciting development” for the club. “The board are very supportive of the move,” he added.

Nick Shrubshall, Melton St Audrys CC chairman, said: “We’re delighted about the prospect of moving to a new improved home. This will allow us to fulfil our ambitious agenda for the future of the clubs.”

Proposals to develop the vacated land comprise 95 homes, including affordable housing, a community building and an open space at Notcutts Park, with a smaller development of 12 family homes at St Audry’s.

At Yarmouth Road, development would include new football and cricket pitches and nets, a social club and changing rooms and possibly an all-weather multi-use games area.

Simon Bryan, development director at Hopkins Homes, said that talking to the clubs and their members had been the essential first step in the consultation process, ahead of full public consultation and exhibitions scheduled for late September.

Geof Butterwick, chairman of the planning and transport committee on Melton Parish Council, welcomed early engagement shown by Hopkins Homes. He said: “This is clearly a complex proposal, involving directly or indirectly four parishes and with wider ramifications than a typical development proposal. Melton Parish Council will play a full part in the forthcoming public consultation process and will form a judgement on the planning applications when they are submitted, which I do not expect to be before the New Year.”

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