Thursday, February 20, 2014
Plans to secure Ramsey Cricket Club’s financial future have been thrown into doubt after the town council blocked attempts to create a new access.
The club wants to sell a strip of land to a developer after receiving planning permission from Huntingdonshire District Council to build six flats.
The proceeds would be used to pay off a loan taken out to build a new pavilion and would allow the renewal of a lease for the town football club, which shares the site. Any profit could then be ploughed into its youth scheme, which counted current England women’s captain Charlotte Edward among its number.
Ramsey Town Council backed the plans in 2012, voting in favour of recommending approval. HDC received no complaints from people living nearby and planners duly gave the go-ahead that April.
But the proposals hit a snag last year after it was discovered the town council owned a verge where a new entrance was to be created, off Queen Mary Close.
The club had to put in a planning application for the access and this time it was unanimously rejected by town councillors. They were asked to reconsider but when they met on Thursday (February 13), they once again voted to turn it down.
Explaining the U-turn, UKIP councillor Peter Reeve said members had discovered there was opposition to the flats from neighbours which they had not been aware of. “We believed local residents were prepared to put up with the flats on the basis that it was helping the cricket club,” he said.
“I put a survey round to make sure I was voting on behalf of the community and the feedback was the community does not want the flats at all.”
Lisa Green, who has lived in The Avenue for nearly 20 years, said she had opposed the plans from the outset and had sent representations to HDC.
“I feel sorry for the cricket club but my issue is lack of privacy once these flats go up. Residents who live here, the ones it will affect, are all against it.”
The strength of opposition to the proposals and the town council’s change of heart took club officials by surprise, particularly as HDC had no record of anyone objecting.
Stephen Buddle, club chairman since November, said: “The scheme was passed in 2012 and they had a chance to raise objections then.
“Now they have voted not to allow access over two metres of mud, thus preventing the scheme that would have secured the future of the club because it would have been debt free.”
Mr Buddle said paying off the loan for the pavilion, rebuilt after an arson attack, had proved difficult, particularly during winter months when there was less income.
As an alternative to the flats, Cllr Reeve said he had suggested another way of paying off the debt. “I have asked our town clerk to investigate borrowing the value of the cricket club’s debt, so we can give them the money and the town council will pay the interest for how ever many years,” he said.