We’ve been in the news today, not for football reasons but for more existential reasons.
You might have already heard the story on the radio or read it online this morning but Woodstock Town faces a very real challenge to its existence right at a time where things are starting to move forward and the Town come out to support us. We need your support more than ever!
Here is a fuller version of the story that has appeared elsewhere in the media today......
The future of an Oxfordshire football club with over a century of history is in “jeopardy” unless it can move to a new location.
Woodstock Town FC, which began life around 1911-12, urgently requires a new ground with floodlights.
The club thought it had found a solution with a proposed development in South East Woodstock of the site known as PR10.
The site had, until recently, been supported by Cherwell District Council in its emerging Local Plan, and would have allowed for a new grass pitch with floodlights, a modern clubhouse and a 3G astro pitch.
But the recent decision of the council not to include the site in the Local Plan has put the future of this historic club in question.
The cost of the new facilities could have been covered by the Section 106 monies that would be due if the development of the site went ahead.
The development, proposed by Blenheim Estate Homes, would include 410 homes, of which 205 would be much needed affordable homes at a pioneering 40% discount on market rents compared to the 20% discount offered by local housing associations.
At the end of last year, the council decided not to include PR10 in its draft Local Plan in favour of adding more homes to the Green Belt.
Neil Roberts, Chairman of Woodstock Town FC, said: “We currently run two men’s teams but have had to take two voluntary relegations in the last few years because our ground is not up to the standard required by the FA. We have been turned down three times by planning for floodlights which are non-negotiable if we are to progress as a club.
“We currently have a good young squad and are second in our league, but without a new ground with the facilities we require, we will continue to lose players to other clubs playing in higher leagues. We have had some very good players over the years including Matt Taylor who is currently with Oxford United.
“The new development would also be transformational for the Marlborough School and the wider community which would be able to use the new astro pitch. It is unfortunate that a town the size of Woodstock does not already have this kind of facility.
“This season we have reintroduced our youth system and any new venue would allow us to form more youth teams, which is vital for the sustainability of football in the town.
“Woodstock Town FC is important in the town. We have over 110 members and regularly get better crowds than clubs in higher leagues than us.
“Without the hope of a new floodlit ground and modern facilities, it will be a struggle to survive. I very much doubt we will be in existence a few years from now.”
The PR10 development would incorporate Blenheim Estate Homes legacy principles, inspired by the Prince’s Foundation Landowner Legacy Principles. They set new standards with designs that integrate with the surrounding communities and blend with the wider world. They also incorporate sustainable building and sourcing and include initiatives that protect and enhance the local environment with the aim of ensuring the quality of life for future generations.
Last month, Blenheim Estate Homes unveiled the first phase of its Park View development which is delivered against its new legacy principles and is immediately adjacent to the PR10 site. The site was officially opened by Robert Courts, MP for Witney, who said: “Park View is a great example of how historic, long-term landowners like Blenheim can help to address the urgent need for new, high-quality and inclusive housing.
“Blenheim’s solution to the problem posed by unaffordable housing through its unique partnership with West Oxfordshire District Council could be the template for many other authorities and landowners to follow.”
In addition to creating the 205 affordable homes, proceeds from the sale of homes at PR10 will go directly to the Blenheim Palace Heritage Foundation, a charity that aims to set up a £45million endowment for the sole purpose of protecting the World Heritage Site for future generations to enjoy without ever having the need for recourse to the public purse.
Blenheim Estate Homes has submitted representations highlighting its objections to the removal of PR10 to Cherwell District Council as part of the Local Plan consultation process.
Story by Nic Newman