THE discovery of a covenant designed to protect a football ground from being built on has raised questions about whether permission can be granted to turn the site into a housing estate.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's development control committee will be making a decision about whether 88 homes can be built on top of Basingstoke Town Football Club's former home in April.

Last year, a planning application on behalf of Basron Developments was submitted to build houses and a care home at the Camrose stadium on Winchester Road. It came after the football club was evicted from the Camrose. 

Earlier this month, the Gazette uncovered a covenant - which the council previously claimed 'didn't exist' - which showed the intent of the original landowner Lord Camrose was for the ground to remain a sports facility until 2053.

Its discovery has thrown legal and ethical questions into the mix with Basingstoke Town Football Club currently seeking advice about what this means. 

Ahead of the planning decision this spring, reporters contacted those on the authority's development control committee (also known as a planning committee) for their view on the plight of the football club and whether the covenant should be upheld.

There are 12 members on the committee and eleven were available to comment. Out of the group, only Cllr Stephanie Grant (Labour, Buckskin) expressed disappointment that the covenant was not being respected.

Three members said they ‘didn’t care’ about football and didn't have an opinion on the plight of the football club.

Cllr Grant said: “I think Lord Camrose would be very disappointed with what has happened to the Camrose, it’s been there for as long as I have but it’s got to the stage now where it’s Winklebury or die for the football club.”

Cllr Michael Bound (Lib Dem, Baughurst and Tadley North) said the covenant happened a long time ago and said homelessness was more of a concern. He said: “[The covenant] happened a very long time ago, some 70 years ago, Lord Camrose wouldn’t have known how the town has developed, he couldn’t have foreseen it.”

“When we’re short of money as a council, I think issues like homelessness are a bigger concern.”

Cllr Nicholas Robinson (Conservative, Bramley and Sherfield) said: “I don’t know what I’m talking about. Leave me out of it, I’m on the slopes.”

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Paul Miller (Conservative, Chineham) said he had little interest in football. He said: “I have a little bit of an international background and the one thing I take no interest in is English soccer. I am a rugby man.”

Cllr David Leeks (Conservative, Tadley South) said: “I haven’t got a clue. I am not interested in football at all.”

When asked whether he thought Basingstoke Town Football Club should be moved back to Basingstoke, he said: “I have taken no interest in it, I have plenty of other things going on."

When asked if he could put his personal interests aside and speak on behalf of the town, he said: "When it comes to planning, I’ll read the papers diligently and make a decision.”

The development and control board will begin discussions on the planning permission at the beginning of April.

Cllr David Potter (Independent, Popley East) said the council had the power to help the club if they wanted but questioned why they hadn’t previously.

He said: “This is a rich council and I think we forget that sometimes. They have just opened the new Village Hotel which cost £3million and they bought B&Q from an American billionaire for £7.5million so don’t tell me they can’t do it.

“They can clearly do it if they want to and I think they have the power to move it forward if they want to and this applies to the ice rink and other sporting facilities.”

Cllr Andrew McCormick (Labour, Brighton Hill) said there was 'no time' to fight for the Camrose. He said Winklebury was the only option.

He said he wanted the Brighton Hill roundabout development to go ahead, which would mean building on the Camrose.

The development control board will begin discussions on the planning permission at the beginning of April.

Who are councillors and what do they do?

Councillors are publicly-elected politicians that represent the public at local level. They receive an allowance from the taxpayer that varies depending on their responsibilities. They can also claim expenses.

The point of a councillor is to represent the constituents in the ward they serve. This might mean making a song and dance over issues that matter in their area such as bus routes, school provisions or housing problems. Their role in society is to fight on the public's behalf. 

There is criticism that there isn’t enough diversity in the experiences and types of councillors elected. 

The average councillor in England is 59, white and is probably called David or John. 

A census suggests 96 per cent of councillors are white and two thirds male.

Local authorities have been criticised for being “too slow” at encouraging women and people from BAME communities to stand.

In Basingstoke and Deane, there is nearly double the amount of male councillors to female councillors with 40 to 21.

The council is overwhelming white with just one councillor who is non-white out of 61 councillors. 

The most common name for a councillor in Basingstoke is 'Paul' with Michael and Laura in second place. 

Councillors get an annual allowance of £7,014. They can also receive a special responsibility allowance if they become a cabinet member boosting the figure up to £20,000. Travel and subsistence allowances can also be claimed.

All details about councillors payments and expenses at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are available here.