A PUBLIC consultation on plans to build a new £7.5million Basingstoke Town Football Club stadium at Eastrop will now go ahead before a final decision is made.

Councillors on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s decision-making cabinet gave the green light to a legal agreement with the club for the sale of land needed to build a new 5,124-capacity stadium on Basingstoke Old Common, in Eastrop, and for the council’s 29 per cent share of the club’s current stadium at The Camrose, in June.

But the borough council’s scrutiny committee was tasked, over two meetings in July, with reviewing the deal after a group of six councillors criticised the decision.

And after considering a report from the scrutiny committee, detailing concerns they had over the deal, including concerns over the legal agreement and the promotion of the current Camrose ground for retail development, the cabinet gave the green light to launch a six-week public consultation period.

The public consultation, which will see local residents asked their views on the loss of green open space at the Old Common, is set to be launched later this month and will run until October 10.

During the consultation, the proposed legal agreement between the council and the football club will also be studied by an external lawyer, following a request from the scrutiny committee.

Councillor Gavin James, Eastrop ward councillor and the borough’s Liberal Democrat group leader, told the meeting: “We exist for the benefit of residents. Tonight you have an opportunity to re-assert yourselves and to start making decisions based on what you think, based on what you’ve heard and what the representatives of those who elected them are saying.”

Crossborough Hill resident Helen Richards raised concerns about the impact that the proposal will have on wildlife, saying: “On ecological grounds alone, the Old Common should never have been considered as an appropriate location for a new stadium, nor indeed should this site be available for any other development.”

Basingstoke Town FC’s club secretary David Knight told the meeting that the club had incurred “significant professional costs” from the delay in signing the agreement, adding: “We were offered a potential site at the Leisure Park and were steered away because it was not considered by officers and members as the long-term solution for the Leisure Park.”

Cllr John Izett, cabinet member for property, finance and commissioning, defended the decision to support the relocation to Eastrop, but told the meeting: “It is right to hear the views of residents across the borough.

“It would be appropriate for us to use the time to double check points raised by the committee, but this is not to be used as an opportunity to kick this into the long grass.”