New proposals to rehome Newport Football Club at a rejuvenated Seaclose Park have received ‘considerable support’. The plans have been put forward by local councillor Matt Price, after he canvassed ideas for the use of the park from local residents.
Instead of moving to the Racecourse site near Whippingham, where planning permission has already been approved, under the plans the club would be based at Seaclose. The new football facilities would be funded by South Coast Leisure, instead of the Racecourse development, and owned by the council with Newport FC paying a peppercorn rent.
A grandstand, clubhouse, floodlights and the latest all-weather pitch would be installed in the south-western corner of the park. As well as providing a home for Newport FC, who currently use East Cowes Vic’s ground after moving from St George’s Park, the facilities would be available for organized community use, allowing Newport FC to cover their own operational costs. A number of potential users have already expressed an interest.
The plans have been developed with the annual Isle of Wight Festival in mind and Matt has already spoken to the organisers John and Caroline Giddings. The area proposed for the football facilities is used for backstage support and would provide additional hardstanding, hospitality and accommodation. It is envisaged the scheme would also complement the Newport Harbour Masterplan which received a boost this week with the confirmation of a new harbour revision order which would allow the council to offer longer leases than the currently allowed three years.
Other ideas for Seaclose include a major upgrade to the current skatepark to include a pump track with dips, bumps and jumps. Football and cricket pitches would be marked out in the park, with walking and cycling routes upgraded.
Matt said: “Having seen off proposals to build 40 houses at Seaclose Park, we need to look at how best to use Seaclose for leisure and recreational purposes. This is an idea that came from my survey of residents, and that is why I decided to try to get some interest in it at County Hall. In the autumn the racecourse site has to start construction, so if we want this to happen time is short. This is a last chance to keep Newport FC in Newport – if we lose this opportunity there won’t be another one. So far public opinion seems to be heavily in favour of the idea. People are giving me the thumbs up wherever I go.”
Matt is also keen to see Seaclose Park expanded to incorporate Medina Arboretum and the sports pitches at Medina College, along with areas of open space alongside reflecting the wider public use of this area.
Tony Wake, chairman of Newport FC and director of South Coast Leisure, said: “The Racecourse site is where we have planned to relocate the club and we expect to make a start on the build towards the end of the summer but, time permitting, I am happy to keep the Seaclose alternative on the table for now should the Council and the public agree it is better option.”
Councillors representing Newport have also shared their support — Cllr Geoff Brodie, the IW councillor for neighbouring Newport East, said he was very happy to do so.
“I was never happy at the football club leaving Newport,” he said. “This would be an ideal alternative, provided there is appropriate planning permission. It would help protect the rest of the park for recreational and sporting use and provide a facility that could be a real asset to the town.”
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, chairman of Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council, said she was behind any initiative that brings the community together and investment to Newport.
To provide feedback on the proposal until March 1 please visit tinyurl.com/footballinnewport or email firstname.lastname@example.org.