Northampton Borough Council is to consider leasing land to a local football club so that it can build a clubhouse and community centre.
Thorplands Club 81 is exploring a partnership with Thorplands Residents’ Association to create the community space on land the club currently play at in the Round Spinney industrial estate.
But they require a helping hand from the borough council if they want to get external funding to help fund the project, in the form of a long-term lease for the ground at Stone Circle Road, which is just behind the Miller & Carter restaurant on Talavera Way.
Club secretary Colin Lee appealed to elected members to support their scheme at the full council meeting at The Guildhall last Monday (March 11).
He said: “We are looking for support in developing a clubhouse or community centre that will attract more people and get even more involved. Thorplands and Southfields don’t have any facilities like that and the idea is to build it for a large room of say 130 people, and you could use it for events or Scouts groups as well.”
The council's support would mean a great deal to Mr Lee, who helped form the club and at 79 years of age still occasionally plays himself. Back in 2011 he was dubbed ‘Britain’s Oldest Goalkeeper’ in the national media, and as well as occasionally manning the sticks he also acts as the manager for the Saturday side.
External funding bodies or organisations such as the Football Association tend to only consider funding if clubs own leases of at least 25 years for land they want to develop.
Deputy leader Councillor Phil Larratt told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Thorplands Club 81, which has six adult teams and 10 children’s teams, had approached the council for help ‘quite a while ago’.
He said: “They have got some pitches that they currently use and have done so for a long time. They have been playing up there for years and there’s potential to develop the site and build a clubhouse and changing rooms and all the facilities they would need.
“They are a very successful club who have approached the FA looking for funding, and they asked if we could help them by giving them a lease.
“They envisage a building which could also act as a community centre, so that would be great for the local area.”
Councillor Larratt said the decision to grant the lease would likely be coming to the borough council’s cabinet for approval in the next couple of months, as officers can only be delegated power to grant leases of up to 21 years.
Mr Lee added: “We’ll be looking for funding from wherever we can. If the council can give us the lease it means we can maintain it and move forward with this.”