UPDATE: Football club and council clash over Burgess Hill ground

Burgess Hill Town chairman Kevin Newell and manager Ian Chapman celebrate winning the championship. Picture by Graham Carter SUS-151204-223623001
Burgess Hill Town chairman Kevin Newell and manager Ian Chapman celebrate winning the championship. Picture by Graham Carter SUS-151204-223623001
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Burgess Hill Town FC and Mid Sussex District Council have clashed over the future of the club’s council-owned football ground.

Yesterday, we reported that the Hillians face a race against time to complete vital upgrades to their ground to remain in the Ryman Premier League.

In response to the article, club chairman Kevin Newell contacted the Middy to insist there has been no delay from the club in progressing talks with their landlords.

The improvements are required by the FA by March 31, but Town is likely to need planning permission to complete the works.

Mr Newell said: “On behalf of Burgess Hill Town FC I first contacted Mid Sussex DC back in September last year.

“Despite several exchanges of emails with the council officers, I am still waiting for them to offer a date for a meeting to discuss our requirements.

“As I am sure councillor (Pru) Moore is aware, the lease we have from the council requires us to obtain their consent before undertaking any building works and, crucially, we are not allowed to make a planning application unless they give us approval do so.

“As planning applications are an expensive business, no prudent leaseholder would undertake that process unless their landlord had indicated that landlord’s consent would be forthcoming, in principle at least.

“I last chased the council officers for a response to our repeated requests for a meeting on December 16.

“The response I had read ‘I have sent this to Chris Riggot our new property and asset maintenance mgr. I spoke to Chris about the need to meet with you in the New Year, I will leave it to Chris to make contact to set this up’.

“Needless to say, no such contact has yet been made and I sent a further reminder today.

“As I and the council officers recognise, as demonstrated by this response, this is primarily an issue of estate management, not planning control.

“If councillor Moore is genuine in her wish to support the football club, she could assist by asking the officers to attend to this business, not try to suggest that there is some fault on our part.”

The Hillians appear destined for a mid-table finish, at worst, in their first year in the Ryman Premier, which follows an historic promotion season that captured the imagination of the town.

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