The chief executive of Maidenhead United has expressed disappointment after a setback in the club’s plans for a new stadium.
The Royal Borough’s place overview and scrutiny panel called in an earlier decision to proceed to lease the club nine acres of land a Braywick Park at its April 20 meeting.
Three independent members, Cllrs Jon Davey, Helen Taylor and Geoff Hill, brought the matter to the panel which unanimously agreed to send the decision back to executive director of place Andrew Durrant. The rethink means the decision may yet go before either full council or cabinet.
But, in a statement, club chief executive Jon Adams said: “We were disappointed that the recent officer decision relating to our agreement to lease part of Braywick Park was called in for review by the council’s overview and scrutiny panel.
“We do however recognise the value and importance of accountability within local government and continue to work collaboratively with the council as the project moves forward.”
Councillors’ concerns were raised at the meeting over whether adequate consultation had taken place, the loss of publicly accessible space and the £460,000 valuation of the nine-acre site.
The council had agreed a 999-year lease on the land at a peppercorn rent and there were concerns over whether the council could give a long lease on public land to a private company.
Cllr Davey, who since the meeting lost his seat at the May elections, argued that Maidenhead Rugby Club would lose half of its pitches due to the move and questioned whether the football club, which has permission to upgrade its current York Road stadium (pictured), needed to move.
He said: “The current ground has a capacity of 4,500 including 550 seats with an attendance of just under 1,000. They are seemingly struggling financially but have a vision that a 5,000-seater will magically take them to the top of the league.”
Cllr Hill called the decision ‘constitutionally wrong’ and said it should be rolled back.
LibDem member Cllr Josh Reynolds questioned the £460,000 valuation and why no information had been presented to councillors over how it had been arrived at.
He added: “You can’t get much change out of £460,000 for a two-bedroom flat at the moment, let alone nine acres of prime space within the borough.”
The football club’s statement said Maidenhead United planned to continue to work collaboratively with stakeholders and consult widely on its proposals.
It added: “We have always been clear that the need for the new stadium is driven by several factors including the simple fact that our existing York Road ground requires significant capital investment, which the club does not have the resources to fund, and that the facilities no longer meet the needs of our growing football and community programmes.
“Our ambition remains to deliver a community stadium the town can be proud of, with facilities that enable us to extend the football opportunities available to all, do more to bring local people together and to champion wellbeing within our community, whilst supporting the needs of other sports clubs.
“Extensive technical development work has been undertaken over recent months as we finalise our proposals for the submission of our planning application, which we now expect to be submitted in the Summer.”
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