St James Park – An Asset of Community Value
I reported at the Trust AGM that we had applied to secure an Asset of Community Value (ACV) status against St James Park (SJP). A little later, we reported that we had withdrawn this application. I know that some members would like to understand more around this and so I’ve detailed the reasoning below.
As you will be aware the Club has recently secured a 25-year lease for SJP, expiring in 2046. This was in addition to the Exeter City Council (ECC) providing significant assistance in the construction of the Adam Stansfield Stagecoach stand.
It is clear that the relationship between ourselves and ECC is in excellent shape and, given that an ACV lasts for only six years (though can be reapplied for), the status gave us nothing more than we had already within the terms of the lease.
An ACV offers no guarantees around future ownership of SJP. It merely ensures that you are given six months’ notice in the event that the landowner intended to sell the asset. When activated, the ACV places a six-month moratorium on the sale of the asset to anybody other than a community interest group, but there is no requirement for the landowner to do so, regardless of appropriate offers. Of course, during the six-months you would be required to raise funds that would enable you to raise whatever funds might be required to purchase the ground.
However, there is no preferential treatment, and the landowner is not bound to sell the asset to the ACV holder, regardless of the value of their bid. The ACV does not prohibit the owner from applying for planning permission and given this, the land might subsequently be valued much higher than its apparent value as a football ground. It is likely however, that the Planning Officer would take the existence of an ACV into consideration when judging the merits of a planning application.
After meeting with ECC the Trust are satisfied that at this current time there is no requirement to apply for this status.
Interestingly, as part of the Fan Led Review, the Football Supporters Association have suggested that changes might be made to ACV’s connected to football grounds and these indeed, were referred to by our Chair of Club Board, Richard Pym. Should changes in legislation come into effect then of course, we would reconsider our position.