A MILESTONE plan for Basingstoke Town Football Club to relocate to a new stadium has moved a step closer despite opposition from councillors.

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

The new £7.5million purpose-built stadium will be funded through the sale of the current ground in South Ham, which is being lined up as an out-of-town retail park. As a result, the local authority will receive £935,000 from the sale of land at both sites.

An all-weather pitch is also set to be built in the grounds of neighbouring Costello School, in Crossborough Hill, which will be used both by the football club and pupils at the school.

Basingstoke Town FC chairman Rafi Razzak spoke in favour of the development at the meeting, saying: “We have considered everything carefully and this is a community stadium for the town of Basingstoke and to benefit the town going forward. I really urge you to support it and put the interest of Basingstoke above any other interest, political or otherwise.”

But Liberal Democrat and Eastrop councillor Stuart Parker raised concerns about the club’s finances at the meeting. He said: “Basingstoke Town FC’s business plan sets out assumptions on increased revenue generated through the provision of a new stadium.

“The figures, however, are predominantly based upon the assumption of greater attendance at matches, which is simply impossible to verify and would rely on the performance of the football team, which is a complete unknown. I would urge you not to proceed with this site for the new location but to retain it as an open green space for the free use and enjoyment of all residents of Basingstoke.”

And fellow Eastrop councillor and the borough’s Liberal Democrats group leader, Gavin James added: “I am disappointed with the result but there are lots more hurdles to cross and we will make sure we are there for every one of them.”

But cabinet member for property, finance and commissioning, Cllr John Izett defended the decision, saying: “It is vitally important that people in the borough have an opportunity to put forward their views.

“Other sites have been examined but the general conclusion, which is supported by Basingstoke Town Football Club, is that the Old Common Road site is the most suitable for vehicular access and proximity to central Basingstoke.”

Residents across the borough will now be asked to give their views on the loss of open green space at the Old Common Road site as part of a public consultation period, which will run from July to the middle of September.