Ground Move Update
Since the last update in September 2020, various discussions have continued with our partner organisations; Notcutts and East Suffolk Council (and Suffolk FA). As visitors to the site will know, we have revisited the possible site at Ufford, but increasing costs and possible planning issues still exist and would need to be resolved. We have also had discussions regarding our existing site, where the current lease expires in 2024. These discussions continue with our partners and we hope to have a further update later in the summer of 2022.
The football club moved to the current site of the Homestyle UK Ground at Notcutts Park in 1990, initially on a 25 year lease. The ground is leased from the council (East Suffolk Council, formerly Suffolk Coastal District Council), who in turn lease the land from Notcutts Nurseries Limited. This lease expired in 2015 and the club have since negotiated a further 10 year lease, to 2024.
It has been indicated to the club that a further extension will not be granted, hence the urgent need for a new site.
Woodbridge Sites and the Council Local Plan
The East Suffolk Council local plan has indicated that the current ground is earmarked for housing and initially stipulated that the club should move to a site in Woodbridge, which in this context is within the boundaries of the A12, River Deben, Martlesham and Melton.
On investigation by the club, it was shown there are no suitable sites within Woodbridge for a comparable facility to Notcutts Park.
The club made representations to the Planning Inspector at the local plan hearings in September 2019, requesting that the local plan be amended to ‘Woodbridge and the surrounding area’ to allow greater scope for a suitable site. The Coronavirus Pandemic has undoubtedly hindered progress.
The local plan went back into a consultation period which ended on 10 July 2020. The council then reviewed the Planning Inspectors report, which agreed to the change we requested, and have voted to approve the plan on 23 September 2010.
Long standing supporters will be aware that the club had drawn up plans in conjunction with Notcutts and Hopkins Homes for a new ground at a derelict nursery, owned by Notcutts at Yarmouth Road, Ufford. These plans also involved Melton St Audry’s Cricket Club.
Plans had progressed to a point where members were asked to vote on these plans and an overwhelming majority were in favour. Unfortunately, for various reasons, these plans were not able to be progressed and so the club started the process again to look for new sites.
Discussions continue with both Notcutts and Hopkins Homes around possible options and we anticipate engaging with East Suffolk Council again together shortly.
Rob Doole, Relocation Project Manager