Russell’s Meadow Action Group
Minutes of meeting on 12/2/07 at 111, Watling Street South, Church Stretton
Present: Bob Welch (Chair), Food Fayre, Stuart Wright, Chamber of Trade, Derek
Bartlett, Residents’ Association
Invitees: Graham Groom, Magpies; Alan Fox, informal advisor on land options
Apologies: Dennis Naylor, Magpies; Dave Hinves, SSDC
1. Minutes of Meeting on 22/1/07: Bob apologised for the omission of Derek
Bartlett’s name from those attending the meeting. The Minutes were
approved. Minutes have been posted on the Town’s website but Bob has
asked that they are more clearly separated from other town activities, since
they are currently somewhat confused.
2. Resignation of Keith Campbell: Keith had reluctantly tendered his
resignation from the Group, because consideration of any option affecting any
other part of either Russell’s Meadow and/or Robinson’s Field would run
counter to his publicly-stated opposition to any development on any of this
land. However, he remained supportive of the option appraisal exercise.
Action:Bob to approach other residents who have expressed an interest in the
3. Feedback from further enquiries: Derek reported back that no contingency
funding, either capital or revenue, had been included in the Unitary Business
Case but £2.5 million capital had been identified for the District Council
absorption into the unitary structure.
Bob had spoken with the Charity Commission, who had confirmed their view
that the Town Council would have no statutory right of sale of any of
Russell’s Meadow, unless able to produce an independent surveyor’s report,
indicating how gifting the land for development on adjacent land benefited
community recreation. This was regarded as highly improbable. However,
there would be no such impediment, if proceeds from the sale of any part of
Robinson’s Field or Russell’s Meadow were re-invested in community
recreation facilities on another site.
Bob reported on a joint meeting with the Housing Association (HA) with Cllr.
Bob Cashmore (of Town Council Sub-Committee) at which the HA confirmed
its willingness to consider trading its land holding for an equivalent area on
Robinson’s Field, acknowledging that this would be a more appropriate
location for housing. However, the Charity Commission would have the same
objection to gifting any land on Robinson’s Field, if there were no
demonstrable recreational gain - hence the need to tie in some Football
Foundation funding and probably some market-priced housing to cover both
the cost of any additional land development behind the school (see below) and
any upgrading of Robinson’s Field as a recreational area, plus, in all
probability, two or three market-priced houses on the Lutwyche Road ‘car
park’ area to cover the cost of the re-located conveniences and car park.
The HA would like to acquire a sizeable area that could be developed over a
number of years, in line with their imperative to build 120 affordable homes to
clear the waiting list backlog, with a further 20 homes needed annually to keep
pace with demand. The HA has Housing Corporation funding to build 6
affordable homes from June onwards, hence the urgency of finalising
alternative land options. The HA confirmed that the Town Council is asked to
verify the local connection of all affordable home applicants.
4. Valuation of Robinson’s Field option: Copies of Stuart’s informal valuation
and plan option were circulated at the meeting, prompting further discussion.
This confirmed that the purchase of additional land behind the school to create
a full-size running track, with two small pitches in the middle, was likely to be
prohibitively expensive, given the current owner’s stance. A much more
affordable option would be a ?25 year lease on the Princes’ field (now owned
by Japanese company) for 2 football pitches. As this field has water bore
holes, fertiliser/line marking materials would not have to jeopardise the water
supply in any way. Graham presented estimates for creating football and
cricket pitches, indicating an overall cost of between £600,000 and £700,000.
This would be dependent on Football Foundation funding for over half the
cost, with the community contribution coming mainly from any land sale of
part of Robinson’s Field.
As well as satisfying the Charity Commission and Sport England, any option
involving change of use of any part of Robinson’s Field would have to obtain
an exemption from its current designation in the Area Plan as designated open
space, but it was thought unlikely that the ODPM would call in the decision, if
the proposal had majority community backing. In order to enhance the
prospect of such backing, it is probable that some of any sale proceeds would
need to be re-invested in landscaping Robinson’s Field, once it is no longer
required for football, as a community recreation area.
This discussion pointed to the need to strike a balance between affordable and
market-priced housing on the strip of Robinson’s Field fronting on to
Churchill Road, with preserved access to the recreational area behind, as up to
£500,000 will be needed to match fund the proposed sports developments
behind the school and drain/enhance the rest of Robinson’s Field.
5. Meeting (at 6.30pm) with Mick Murphy, FA County Development
Officer, Dennis Naylor, Alan Fox and Bob Welch: Having briefed Mick on
the background to the proposals, the two strategic options in relation for future
football provision in Church Stretton were rehearsed, either to culvert the
Russell’s Meadow stream and re-design and drain both Russell’s Meadow and
Robinson’s Field or re-locate the provision to behind the school, by leasing
Princes’ field, to create two pitches and building changing rooms on the back
of the school field with an adjacent car park, having widened the existing
access track or creating a new access road inside the school field (if owners of
existing track unwilling to co-operate).
Mick Murphy’s strong recommendation was to go with the school option in
line with Football Foundation (FF) national policy, expressing reasonable
confidence that the FF would part fund such a scheme, including a 60’x40’
Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) behind the school with a ‘Challenger’
surface, suitable for all games to practise on, with associated lighting (cost
£250,000 approx.). The latter will require negotiation with the school and
County Council to re-consider the original design for the Sports Centre,
namely, to have parking at the back (not the front as in new plan) of the
school, identifying alternative hard play area as well.
The Cricket Club could have the option of remaining on Russell’s Meadow or
transferring to the school, sharing the new pavilion/changing rooms there and
funding the re-development of the school cricket square, if the school were
willing to share that facility.
In order to progress this proposal, Mick advised bringing in the independent
consultant, Anna Kocerhan, who knows how to progress funding applications
to the FF (having masterminded Ludlow’s recent and pending applications)-
minimum period 30 weeks. Alan thought the Area Partnership might provide
any upfront funding of consultant fees. He confirmed that all previous
proposals to improve sporting facilities in the Town had foundered on
disagreements between the various sports clubs. Dennis confirmed that
discussions are proceeding to amalgamate the football clubs into one
Community Football Club (a move strongly backed by Mick Murphy), so
there is now a much better chance of securing consensual agreement.
Action: Dennis to convene meeting of all sports organisations on 14th
February to seek a consensus on the preferred option for future development
of both football and cricket in the Town.
Action: Alan to make preliminary enquiries of the school’s likely response to
the options outlined above and to approach the present owners of Princes’
field about their willingness to enter into a 25-year lease.
Action: Bob to liaise with Town Council Sub-Committee and with Cllr.
Charles West in his capacity as Chairman of the Sports and Leisure Facilities
Project Management Committee.
6. Pavilion Working Group Meeting with Football Foundation
representative on 26th February: The Town Council has indicated that a FF
representative has been invited to that meeting but Mick advised that he had
no knowledge of such a meeting.
Action: Bob to ask the Town Clerk to invite Mick to the Pavilion Group
meeting as he is the key FF representative to involve at this stage.
7. Date of Next Meeting: To be arranged after the Pavilion Group meeting on
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