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Iconic non league stadium to be demolished; Jeff Stelling, Frankie Dettori pay tribute

An iconic non league stadium is set to be demolished with the news causing the likes of Jeff Stelling and Frankie Dettori to pay tribute.

Permission has been granted for 85 dwellings and a 70-bedroom care home on The Camrose after an inspector approved the developer’s appeals.

Former chairman of Basingstoke Town Football Club Raffi Razzak and his company Basron Developments Ltd put in appeals against a decision by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Development Control Committee to reject his planning applications.

CLUB STATEMENT:

The club this morning disappointingly learnt that Basron’s planning permission to build housing and a care home on the historic site of The Camrose has been granted by The National Planning Inspectorate.

The club board will be consulting our legal representatives and will be holding an internal meeting to discuss the next steps and courses of action.

We will send out further updates in due course.

– STATEMENT ENDS –

On both appeals, the decision reads: “Allowed, and outline planning permission is granted”.

The inspector brought up a multiple reasons for his decision, including ” significant economic and social benefits from the provision of much needed housing.”

He added: “I have considerable sympathy with those supporters who want to see BTCFC return to its historical home at the Camrose ground. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the club’s current predicament, one cannot get away from the fact that it has no control or rights over the ground and perhaps more importantly, no demonstrable prospect of returning there, irrespective of any decision I were to make in relation to these appeals. This is a further material consideration in favour of the appeal schemes.”

 

THE CAMROSE HISTORY

– Formed in 1896, Basingstoke Town FC is a 126 year old football club.

– The club had played at The Camrose for over 70 years.

– The historic Camrose ground was gifted to the football club by local benefactor Viscount Camrose with a lease to 2053 with a covenant restricting use to ‘football or a sports ground’.

– The Camrose has had no investment from its land owners, including the Council, with the majority of necessary works being carried out voluntarily by fans.

– In 2016, whilst Rafi Razzak was Chairman and owner of the football club, the freehold of The Camrose land was purchased by Basron Developments, also owned by Rafi Razzak. Basingstoke Council still own almost a third of The Camrose site.

– Razzak as the new owner of the majority of the land, evicted the newly formed Community Club from The Camrose in April 2019 whilst forcing the club into an uneconomic ground share at Winchester City FC, 20 miles away and had stepped down as Chairman of the football club. To this day, Razzak still owns ‘Basingstoke Town Ltd’ which has no football club attached to it – not to be confused with the new ‘Basingstoke Town Community Football Club Ltd’ the name of the football club.

– Among the Community Club and the Council, funding was used to upgrade Hampshire FA’s Winklebury Football Complex to allow the newly formed Community Club to return to play football in the town, at it’s current level.

– Since October 2020 the Community Club has been renting the shared Hampshire FA ground at Winklebury Football Complex in Basingstoke which provides a short-term lifeline which does not currently sufficiently replace The Camrose for countless reasons.

– Meanwhile, The Camrose Stadium across the town is currently unused, vandalised and left to rot by ex-Chairman Rafi Razzak.

– In September 2020, Rafi Razzak’s planning permission for housing redevelopment at The Camrose was refused unanimously by Basingstoke Council on the grounds that the development did not meet the fundamental points in the Council’s Local Plan, Policy CN8 and the stadium has not been sufficiently replaced.

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– In January 2021, the Community Club formed the ‘Save The Camrose Committee’. An active group to fight to return to The Camrose, to ensure the Community Club has a suitable home of its own to support it’s:
Men’s Team
Women’s Team
Full Time 16-19’s Academy Programme
Boy’s Youth Teams Under 9’s-Under 18’s (over 200 players)
Girls Youth Team
Community Football Programme
Walking Football Programme
Disability Football Programme
School’s Football Programme

– Later in January 2021, Basingstoke Council approved the club’s application to list the Camrose as an Asset of Community Value, noting its potential.

– In March 2021 – Basron Developments appealed both the Asset of Community Value listing and also appealed the Planning Permission rejection.

– June 2021 – The Save The Camrose Committee enlisted a team of specialist legal representatives to ensure that the listing of The Camrose as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) was to be upheld.

– June 2021 – The Save The Camrose Committee’s Feasibility Study was delivered to key members of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council which outlined why the community sports hub is needed, what type of facilities are being proposed, the cost of these improvements, funding options, the sustainability of the community sports hub and why Basingstoke Town Community Football Club are best placed to deliver the site over the short- and the long-term. Councilor feedback was positive which demonstrated how the club’s ambitions could be brought to fruition.

– November 2021 – The Save The Camrose Committee and its legal representatives successfully requested that the Planning Permission rejection appeal should be held as a public inquiry which would allow the club and interested others to act as a ‘Rule 6’ party at the hearing which will grant the club and its legal representatives the ability to submit evidence and cross-reference evidence from Basron Developments separately to the Council’s own defence.

– January 2022 – The Save The Camrose Committee and its legal representatives have submitted our final evidence regarding the upholding of The Camrose as an Asset of Community Value. We expect a decision by March 2022, latest.

– January 2022 – The Save The Camrose Committee and its legal representatives continue to gather evidence to support the claim that replacement facilities have not been sufficiently replaced which will be used at Public Planning Inquiry.

– March 2022 – The Planning Permission Virtual Public Inquiry was held over a 4 day period between March 22nd and 25th March 2022, with the Inspector having visited The Camrose and Winklebury on March 28th. It may not be that a final decision is announced for up to 4-6 weeks.

– May 6th 2022 – The National Planning Inspectorate informed the community club that despite our fight, permission has been granted for Basron’s housing and care home on the land of The Camrose…

Twitter users reacted with the iconic non league stadium to be demolished; Jeff Stelling, Frankie Dettori pay tribute…

@ChrisWye: @elonmusk, please buy this land and let @Basingstoke_FC return home. This is football heritage for so many people. Please don’t let it be built on 😔 🙏🏼

@princessmacd: So disappointed. But not surprised! I hope there is an appeal and it is successful!

@SurreyWyvern: Reckon someone, somewhere has had a nice little backhander!

@ColinIve: A sad day but also many lessons for grassroots clubs to learn here. To many examples of similar‘business’ people seemingly bringing money to a club and instead shafting it for their own interests. @guildfordcity care to comment? 😕

@KevinBraybrook: Terrible news. Such a disappointment to hear about these developments. Wish @Basingstoke_FC well, as a great club and playing and watching at the Camrose was such a big part of my childhood

@GeoffMiles19: Unfortunately government in all it’s guises from local to national care little about the electorate and community and more about money. The local council now need to step in and support the club in whatever they need.

@torpointboy: We lost our ground to an Aldi…..they used less than 40% of the total site (including the car park) now forced to play 51miles away from home…..we feel your pain Truro City

@daveambler: What a shock, millionaire businessmen gets his way. Thanks for all your help in this @MariaMillerUK. That is sarcasm if it’s not obvious!

@MikeWaltersMGM: No surprise – desecration of valuable community asset enabled by gutless vandals.

@Saintly54: Saddened by this decision. Basingstoke needs more infrastructure and amenities for the existing population without more housing.

@TheToffDog: The planning inspectors comments are pretty heartbreaking 💔 Very much pointing to the crux of the matter which is the club (and the community) have been diddled out of a facility by an unscrupulous businessman.

@romancoin1uk: A fu**ing travesty.

@bobcainffc1971: Disgraceful decision. Needs to be called in and reversed by central government.

@cweight24: Gutting. Brown envelops galore..💰

@knowles_ali: A sad decision today, another football ground lost to developers. I just hope that Basingstoke & Deane Council can support the club in finding an suitable home, as the current ground is unsuitable for the club to proceed in the leagues #BasingstokeFootball #Football

@Tony2Pints: Sorry to hear that. Disgusting decision. Spend your back hander wisely @MariaMillerUK we know you like to pocket a little extra, that’s a fact, not opinion.

@Bridget43356074: I feel so sad for the club and supporters !!! 💙💛⚽️ Downright disgrace…

@vicjwest: So wrong. I don’t know where to start. A sad day for our town, a sad day for football

SEE MORE: Non league community remain gutted as new photos of abandoned stadium emerge

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