A controversial plan to turn a newly-built football clubhouse in Chipping Norton into a nursery has been met with widespread opposition.
More than 150 people have lodged objections to the application to change the use of the Walterbush Road clubhouse, including the town council and football club.
Banana Moon Nurseries wants to take over the clubhouse built as part of a housing development to ensure Chipping Norton Town FC’s future but that is now under threat.
A club statement said: “The club has always desired to continue play football at Walterbush Road.
“The original land sale stipulated the availability of the pitch and clubhouse.
“This proposed change of use would circumvent the original agreement and leave the town suffering.
Clearly the town wants football to remain within Chipping Norton – it would be a travesty if this proposal was to go ahead.Chipping Norton Town Football Club
“The clubs position remains unchanged: Chipping Norton Town want to play football at Walterbush Road.
“From the opposition to the planning application, clearly the town wants football to remain within Chipping Norton – it would be a travesty if this proposal was to go ahead.”
The old clubhouse was knocked down to build new houses on the Cotswold Gate development, with a new one promised as part of the deal.
But the football club has been locked in a dispute with the new land owners and has not played at Walterbush Road for the past two seasons.
Should the application be accepted, it would spell the end for the club playing at Walterbush Road, and with no other viable pitch in the town, it could be forced to move to Enstone permanently or close altogether.
In a document on the application, Banana Moon said its plans have been ‘embraced’ by the developers and the plans have been ‘drawn up with their cooperation’.
Chipping Norton mayor Michael Tysoe said the town council has been working with the football club for many months to try to find a solution and hoped the proposal would be denied.
“I sincerely hope this many voices will not go unheard and I hope this application is turned down in order to try to get a solution worked out for the future of football in Chippy,” he said.
Banana Moon says market research shows there is a need for a ‘high-quality day nursery’ in the area, which would provide after-school and half term facilities.
“We would like to provide Chipping Norton with a brand new pristine, professionally planned children’s day nursery which will be an additional quality social amenity in this newly built vibrant area,” the document says.
Chipping Norton district councillor Guy Wall disputed this, saying his experience as a governor at the ACE Centre suggested otherwise.
“We always had space for more children and we should be supporting those nurseries that are already in the town, not building new ones,” he said.
Cllr Wall was also against losing the Walterbush Road ground and believed the sheer amount of objection letters showed just how much the club means to Chipping Norton.
“People in Chipping Norton are very open to development but we have nurseries which have capacity and we don’t have enough sporting facilities,” he said.
“The club was promised a clubhouse and a home as part of the development and we just want those promises to be honoured.”
The deadline for comments is tomorrow, Thursday, October 19, ahead of a decision by West Oxfordshire District Council.
Click here to view or comment on the application.
Banana Moon has been contacted for comment.