Increase in seating for Bury Town as Ram Meadow planning application goes in
Despite their future at Ram Meadow remaining uncertain, Bury Town have lodged an application for planning permission to build a modern east stand which would increase the seated capacity of the ground by 40 per cent.
Replacing the current eight mast floodlights, which they brought over from the old King’s Road ground when they moved to their current location in 1978, with four new ones is also on the application to West Suffolk Council.
Under the plans, which are out to public consultation via the council’s website until the end of the month ahead of a decision in March, The Jimmy the Rattle Stand would be knocked down.
On the opposite side of the pitch to the players’ tunnel and named in tribute to former supporter Jimmy Weingartner, it is estimated to have room for 60 people on long wooden benches. But the new £34,000 stand, which is set to keep the Polish war veterans’ name, would have 150 individual plastic seats.
Board member Chris Ward, who is leading the latest ground refurbishment project, following the clubhouse rebuild and changing rooms revamp, said: “The floodlights came from the King’s Road stadium. They still pass the ground inspections but in the next few years they will need replacing,” he said.
“The stand on the far side needs doing as well so we thought we would do the same thing and apply to the Football Foundation, as any club at our level can get up to 70 per cent of the costs covered.”
It is estimated the whole project would cost £80,000 but it comes amid an uncertain future at the ground.
The council-owned site at Ram Meadow had been earmarked in former authority St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s 2031 Vision document for housing and car parking.
The club, who had seen a move to Moreton Hall fall through on funding grounds in 2013, were meant to be working with the council on finding a suitable location for a new long-term home.
But Ward feels the new authority may revise the previous plans. And he is also confident both floodlights and stand could be dismantled and taken to a new site.
“As far as we are concerned it is our home for the forseeable future, until we are notified otherwise,” he said.
A West Suffolk Council spokesman would not be drawn on the club’s future location, only to say: “We continue to support Bury Town FC in its ambitions to grow and develop. The council is committed to working with the club to ensure it has a home that meets its needs, now and in the future.”
The Football Foundation have already visited the ground, in which the seated capacity would increase from 150 to 210 with the rebuilt stand, and been satisfied there is a need for it, Ward revealed.
The work on replacing both the floodlights and stand would be set to be completed over the summer to avoid disruption to competitive fixtures.
It comes after a supporter-funded £2,300 electronic scoreboard was installed ahead of the club’s Boxing Day win over Soham Town Rangers.
Bury’s crowds have been on the increase and are currently averaging the best in their division in the BetVictor Isthmian League, at 390 people. Their last home game saw 482 recorded against Canvey Island.
The club host Felixstowe & Walton United in a Suffolk derby in the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division on Saturday (3pm) looking to bounce back from a run of three straight defeats to keep themselves in a top five promotion play-off place.
Manager Ben Chenery is hoping for a big crowd of around 500 to turn out to roar his side on.
* See Friday's Free Press for a preview to the match as well as the latest reaction from the manager.
More by this authorRussell Claydon