Monday, 10 August 2015
This is from the www.sulisdown.com web site Summary ODFC provide an important football club and community facility alongside Combe Hay Lane and as such, wish to participate in the planning and master planning process for Sulis Down, reflecting the objectives of Place Making Principle 10 within Policy B3A of the BANES Core Strategy 2014. With limited resources at its disposal, the club will take a cautious approach to assessing options during the master planning and subsequent stages, but at this point wish to remain open minded and rule nothing out, especially if this would result in long term benefits for the football club and the community. We also recognise the potential significance of providing upto 80 local homes, including affordable housing, here in Bath. We therefore wish to work with the other landowners at Sulis Down and the Council to explore the opportunities and constraints that may arise from Policy B3A and its Placemaking Principles and support the proposed master plan. Background ODFC owns the Lew Hill Memorial Ground, off Combe Hay Lane, Odd Down. The Ground, which comprises approximately 2.2 hectares of land, is allocated in the Council’s Core Strategy 2014, as part of a mixed use development scheme ad joining Odd Down, known as Sulis Down. The Club was founded in 1901, playing on various local pitches before setting up their ground at Combe Hay Lane, which the Club purchased in 1952, known as the Lew Hill Memorial Ground. A social Club was opened in 1972. Currently the Club play in the Premier Division of the Western League. The ground has one full professional playing pitch and a smaller training ground. Both are grass and play is limited to, at most, 2 or 3 matches a week depending on conditions.Income for the Club (there are player and match fees to pay) is produced from many sources, chiefly a popular social club (approximately 500 members) – open every day/evening and which attracts 250 on a good evening. Membership is drawn from Bath, almost exclusively and mostly local to Odd Down. It is the largest social focus for Odd Down. The Clubroom (which has accommodated 400) is used for parties - business seminars, funeral wakes etc. and has good facilities. As well as football, the Club has 5 skittle teams and darts teams and runs many events for the older population. The grounds have good car parking and the club has contractual arrangements for daily parking with St. Gregory’s School and New Sixth, as well as the GP Surgery in Sulis Manor Road.The car park accommodates vehicles for other activities – for using mobile vehicles (training, screening etc) and runs a weekly weekend Farmers’ Market with a regular handful of stalls. The professional pitch is flood lit and must maintain a minimum crowd capacity and facilities to compete in the relevant league. The Club is managed carefully to balance its books and has a very local membership. Its business model works and balances its market with the particular management level and price point it has.There is understandable concern that its business model could easily fall out of balance if running costs, membership costs, location, character etc change. But it does need capital investment, especially to keep an offer that works for existing and new families. It would like to do more work to bring school age children into the game and swaps facilities with St Gregory’s School at both summer and winter seasons.The Club would like to develop a new Clubhouse facility, ideally located above improved changing rooms and storage. Such facilities might include separate function rooms as well as the Social Club. Existing boundaries to the club are overgrown and in poor condition and in places unauthorised access is an issue. Planning Position The Lew Hill Memorial Ground extends to about 2.2 hectares and is bounded by Combe Hay Lane to the west and Sulis Manor Road to the north and Sulis Meadows immediately to the east. Since the adoption of the Core Strategy in 2014, the grounds are allocated for redevelopment as part of the mixed use scheme at Sulis Down, as reflected in Policy B3A, the Concept Plan and numerous Placemaking Principles. The relevant policy for the ground is Placemaking Principle 10, which states: 10 Retain and/or enhance the Odd Down Football Club (Football Pitches, Clubhouse and changing facilities, play area, local market and car park) either: (i) in its current location; or (ii) by re - providing the Football Club with an equivalent facility within the area (extract from BAN ES Core Strategy 2014) Those responsible at ODFC did not seek to allocate the Memorial Ground for new housing, however the opportunity to enhance the football club facilities as referred to above, is something which the club wishes to fully explore and pa rticipate in. The redevelopment of land immediately alongside the Memorial Ground for atleast 300 homes, is also of great interest to the club as it wishes to develop its community facilities that complement new housing, whilst supporting the football club into the future. Therefore the production of a master plan that reflects the elements and opportunities expressed in Placemaking Principle 10 is desirable at this stage. The provision of an equivalent facility within the area is clearly a significant concern of the club, should it contemplate relocating. A number of options within Sulis Down have been tabled and the club will carefully assess these alongside other alternatives in due course. The club understands that the Memorial Ground could accommodate up to 80 new homes within Sulis Down and consequently appreciates the significance of such a housing provision, including an element of affordable housing, which is much needed in Bath. Nevertheless the location of the Memorial Ground is important to the community it currently serves, including the Social Club, St Gregory’s School and New Sixth and the GP Surgery. Therefore seeking to balance all those needs, together with the future needs of the football club will form part of this master planning process and decisions of the club in the future. Enhancing existing facilities at the Memorial Ground will also be examined carefully, particularly if this can provide an enhanced community role in Sulis Down and secure a strong future for the football club. Participation The club has participated in the earlier Core Strategy process and has worked alongside the Hignett Family Trust, who have continued to promote Sulis Down. The club engaged in the earlier public exhibition and workshops and will participate in the master planning workshops with the Council, however due to limited resources, the club will not be committing to future, at risk, expenditure through a Joint Planning Performance Agreement (PPA). Nevertheless the chairman and other officers of the club will try to attend relevant workshop events and support the landowners as they draw up the master plan. Its is hoped that this Position Statement and the participation of the club, demonstrates that achieving the outcomes set out in the Placemaking Principles is fully supported by the club. Therefore options to retain the club in its current location or to relocate it nearby, need to be reflected in the master plan. The alternatives should in either case, lead to enhancement of the club and to a secure future. Because the club also serves an important social function to the community of Odd Down, the relocation of the social club function would be extremely sensitive. Alternative locations on Sulis Down have been provisionally assessed at public workshops and whilst it is premature to reach any firm conclusions, locations in the immediate vicinity of Combe Hay Lane would be more likely to address the requirements of the club. The landowners and the Council will examine the constraints and opportunities of these options and reflect these in the master plan. Future Decisions The chairman and other officers of the club will engage in the planning process to ensure that the interests of Odd Down Football Club are understood and protected. Ultimately the conclusions of this process will be discussed and approved by members of the club following any recommendations from the chairman and other officers. The formation of a master plan will be a useful step in this process and will provide greater clarity to the club.