Teversal Grange faces demolition vote

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An extraordinary meeting of Ashfield district Council Charities Committee is expected to approve the demolition of the Teversal Grange Country Inn on Wednesday.

The decision to scrap the former pub and restaurant will be part of a plan which will put in place the foundations for a more positive future for the Teversal football, bowls and cricket clubs which use the facilities of the Teversal Trust.

But the move has caused controversy, with a councillor launching an online petition to save the building, saying not enough has been done to explore new uses for it.

The building has remained boarded up since May 2013 when previous tenants vacated the premises leaving significant debts unpaid.

Since then it has been unoccupied and is currently boarded up to prevent vandalism.

The council says there are no suitable applicants for the Grange which would cost in excess of £150,000 to bring up to standard.

Ashfield Council Tax payers are currently paying £45,000 a year and security costs to mothball it.

If the demolition is approved, the committee will be asked to agree that the three sports clubs (football, cricket and bowls) and the Visitor Centre should enter into leases with the Trust, of which the Council is Trustee.

This will enable the clubs to draw upon funding from the Football Foundation and Sport England so they can develop facilities.

The demolition would include putting up a temporary building to include changing facilities, showers and a tea room to accommodate the cricket club.

In a joint statement, Pete Cockerill, Chair of Teversal Football Club and Barry Chambers, Secretary of Teversal Bowls Club, said: “Although we are sad to see that the Grange will be demolished, we recognise that in the present difficult economic climate, it would be unreasonable for Council Tax payers to spend large sums of money to restore the building.

“We are delighted with this development and believe that working together, we can bid for crucial funds to develop new community sports facilities in Teversal.”

Phil Hauton Chair of the Teversal Cricket Club said, “In my layman’s opinion it would be uneconomical to repair and re-occupy the Grange building due to the inherent high running costs of Rates, Heating, Lighting etc. ADC’s offer of providing temporary accommodation for the Cricket Club in the short term and the provision of a Lease combined with assistance with applying for funding for a more permanent solution in the immediate future is something we welcome. We sincerely hope that this solution will be one which secures the future of our Club into our 100 year anniversary in 2022 and well beyond that.”

Councillor Jim Aspinall, ADC Portfolio holder for Prosperity, who took up the case on behalf of the clubs said the proposals still have to be formally approved, but added: “I have been working with the clubs on this project for seven months and I am delighted that the clubs and the hard working volunteers, who are all passionate about the site, will now be able to develop new facilities for their clubs and the community, with the funding they will be able to call on from the Football Foundation and Sport England.

“It is of course, sad that the Grange will have to be demolished, but I would have great difficulty justifying in these difficult economic times, when the Council is facing a further cut in its budget next year of £800,000, spending a minimum £150,000 to restore the Grange and a further £45,000 a year in business rates and security on an empty building.

“Council Officers, will of course assist the clubs in drawing up their grant applications and hopefully at some time in the future the clubs themselves can take over running the of Trust.”

However Coun Jason Zadrozny has mounted a campaign to save the building with an online petition.

Coun Zadrozny said: “The tendering process was started about a year ago and there were more than ten different applicants expressing an interest.

“Teversal FC told me they had submitted a bid.

“The council say nobody can possibly take it on and nobody is interested.

“But I think potential people can be frightened by the prospect of business rates. The council could choose not to charge business rates if a charity takes it over or rent for a period. As long as overheads are covered, to give it a fighting chance. The process went on behind closed doors and they did not show the councillors the tenders.

“They have to at least try before they put the wrecking ball through it.

“When it is bulldozed the council will never have the money to rebuild it. I think they owe it to the people of Sutton not to write it off straight away.”

Coun Zadrozny was backed by Richard Goad , Chair of Friends of Teversal.

Mr Goad added: “It seems rather premature to demolish it when alternatives seem to have not been investigated. I understand a lot of people were interested in finding an alternative use for the building. Maybe demolition will be the right thing but not before the alternatives have been investigated. If it is a non-starter for it to become a hotel or pub, maybe it could become a sports outlet. It is there for the taking if there is the right idea for investment.”

See the petition at http://www.petitions24.com/save_teversal_grange_from_demolition