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Grays Athletic launch latest stage of their campaign to move into unused stadium

Grays Athletic launch the latest stage of their campaign to move into an unused stadium while also publishing new photos of the ground.

The Essex-based club has applied with retailer Group 1 Automotive to build a vehicle testing centre in Aveley, with parking for 1207 vehicles.

Grays want to move into the stadium. Objectors, however, claim that the plan will destroy a buffer zone and increase pollution.

Grays Athletic has been without a permanent home since 13 years. They currently play in the Isthmian League North Division. If the plan was to go ahead, they would be taking over the old Thurrock football club ground.

Director Glyn Jarvis told a Thurrock Council planning meeting that the club has been around for 130 years and was now in its last chance saloon.

“We are 100% owned by our supporters, a true community football club,” he said.

“We have been homeless since 2010. We understand the Ship Lane land has been valued at £3m by the selling agent.

“We could never afford to buy this site. Through this planning application we will be given the stadium for free. If approved we will bring the dilapidated ground back to life after five years of it lying completely dormant.

“This is the last chance saloon for our football club.”

The council received 220 submissions in favour of the plan but 56 objections, and a petition with 618 signatures against it.

“The football club will be the sole beneficiary of this application and it will not be for the benefit of the general community of Purfleet or Aveley who are both against this plan,” said John Rowles, chairman of the Purfleet-on-Thames Community Forum.

“The application will destroy one of the last green buffers between the M25, A13, Purfleet-on-Thames and Aveley. We suffer from some of the worst air quality in the area which will be made worse by the increase in vehicle movements.”

The planning committee deferred a decision, and another one that was linked, which would have seen a 3G pitch built and changing rooms constructed on council land in nearby Belhus Park Lane Aveley for a site-visit.

CLUB STATEMENT:

Club Launches latest stage of its campaign to make Ship Lane Its new Home ground

Grays Athletic Community Football Club have today launched the latest stage of its campaign to secure permanent access to the former Thurrock FC ground at Ship Lane in West Thurrock, with the release of a report highlighting the many community benefits of the proposal.

A copy of the report can be read in full by clicking HERE.

The club are partners in a planning application with Group 1 Automotive Ltd which is seeking to purchase the site adjoining the Thurrock Hotel close to the Dartford Tunnel Roundabout. As part of the deal, Group 1 would gift the redundant football ground to Grays Athletic, as their permanent home. Grays have been homeless since being forced to leave the Recreation Ground in 2010.

Grays Athletic are keen to emphasise the wide-ranging community benefits that would flow from their taking ownership of Ship Lane. As well as running more than 20 teams for male and female players of all ages, the club is committed to ensuring that 50% of the usage of the ground would be open to all sections of the local community. This will help address issues around lack of access to quality, affordable facilities in Thurrock. Ship Lane would also become the base for a host of new projects run by the club around health, fitness and opportunities for disabled people.

For all this to happen and the local community to benefit, Grays Athletic are relying on Thurrock Council planning committee approving the application, with a decision currently expected at a meeting on 13th July.

People can add their support for the Grays Athletic campaign through our online petition which can be found here: ONLINE PETITION

IT READS:

Thank you for continuing to follow the fortunes of Grays Athletic. Our football club is at an important stage of our long history and we really need your help.

Grays Athletic has been homeless for 13 years after losing its spiritual home The New Recreational Ground in its hometown of Grays in 2010. The New Rec was sold for housing and the club did not receive one penny from the sale of the land to assist us to relocate elsewhere in Thurrock. The club has led a nomadic life ever since.

Thurrock Council are due to decide on the planning application to redevelop land next to the former Thurrock Football Club in Ship Lane after a site visit for the Council’s Planning Committee members, which is currently being organised.

The planning application is to develop currently unused and uncared for land behind the football stadium and transform it into a car preparation plant.

As part of this application, the current unused and derelict football ground will be gifted to Grays Athletic for community use. As part of the agreement, the club will sign a legally binding contract ensuring that the ground can never be sold for redevelopment and will remain in constant football use. As part of the agreement, Grays Athletic will offer 50% community use alongside its own teams. 

Grays Athletic Community Football Club is 100% supporter owned and run and has been part of Thurrock’s community for 133 years. The club. can boast 20 boy and girl youth teams from ages 5-23, a thriving women’s football team, the men’s senior 1st team, walking football teams for over 50s, a Sunday league team and vets team. The club is building its standing in the local area and is a true community football club serving all peoples of Thurrock.

Having a stadium to call our own again after 13 years would be huge for the club and secure our long-term future. Without a ground to call our own the club’s very existence is at risk, ending 133 years of footballing history in the borough of Thurrock.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THIS PETITION AND HELP US BRING SHIP LANE BACK TO LIFE!

Fans reacted as Grays Athletic launch the latest stage of their campaign to move into the unused stadium…

@BCumminss: Such a waste just sitting there. Be brilliant if Grays can get this old girl back to life

@floody1978: Awful to see. Spent hundreds of amazing days there.

@LVehit: We’re not just a football club, we are a community asset, fan owned by the people for the people, who operate not for profit but to give the people of Thurrock opportunities on every level to be active, responsible, social and healthy. Ship Lane would be for everyone.

@NickP1978163409: A real waste

@toptargets: Come on, do the right thing. Such a waste. Criminal this is happening when it could be used and made into something great for the local community. @thurrockcouncil 👍

@Gandermonium: Absolutely daft that this is stood abandoned.

@bornatotter: What a waste….

@RobCTID21: Remember going there with @NewportCounty

@phatjoe87: @VancityReynolds @RMcElhenney can you help share the message about the this historic club with no home ground, we can see you understand what football means to local communities and @GraysAthleticFC are trying to hit 3000 signatures imagine what they could do with your help……

@TractorBoyCCFC: How can this be a difficult decision? “We want to use an existing football ground as a err football ground”! I am sure a go decision would already have been made if this was an application to build houses on a green field site.

@marowe1988: No brainer grays should be able to bring this back to life and make it a community use stadium. @thurrockcouncil being useless as per. Waste money left right and centre and this will cost them zilch. Do the right thing.

@GavUk1969: Looks like a cracking ground, how the heck @thurrockcouncil could let this ground get into this state is shocking. If you are a landlord, and someone moves out of a property, you would want that property vacated asap.

@MottysMic: But that pitch is recoverable and the ground can be brought back to life. Council you know this has got be given the green light

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