Council outbid when it tried to buy Farlington field which belonged to the former St John's College in Portsmouth
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Work on a potential purchase began last summer following the college’s closure and was prompted by concerns that the site, used by Nomads Rugby Club and Portsmouth Cricket Club, could be lost. Half a million pounds was allocated in this year’s council budget and an expression of interest was submitted after the site was put up for sale in October but the council’s bid was not chosen.
However, Steve Pitt, the council’s leader and cabinet member for culture, said this allocation was being kept in case the purchase falls through. Although details of the winning bid have not been made public, Portsmouth Football Club were among the organisations considering an offer for a new base for its academy operations.
Cllr Pitt said it was unlikely anyone would be able to get planning permission for a substantial redevelopment of the site due to its designation as grazing ground for Brent Geese. In 1994, this scuppered the football club’s plans for a new stadium.
“The view of planners is that you would never, ever get planning permission for housing on that site,’ he said.
The issue of the council’s bid was raised by Drayton and Farlington councillor Simon Bosher, the leader of the opposition Conservative group, at Tuesday’s (July 18) council meeting.
Cllr Pitt responded: “We had been going through a process around the unexpected closure of St John’s College and what was going to become of the playing fields was of consideration because it’s used by Nomads Rugby Club and Portsmouth Cricket Club, so there’s an income stream already there.
“If those current uses got displaced onto other sports pitches that would add more pressure to the system and we’re already close to capacity in a couple of areas so it was felt there may be an opportunity.”
He said the council was not yet aware that any sale of the site had been completed.