FB may get back on track

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PLANS to redevelop the clubhouse at FB Fields and install an indoor track are set to be revisited, the chair of Jersey Spartan Athletic Club has said, after a covenant preventing development of the land was lifted.

The States Assembly unanimously approved a proposition last week to overturn the restrictive ban which had meant previous plans to upgrade the facilities had to be shelved.

And JSAC chair Rebecca Orpin said the decision taken by politicians allows the club to ‘re-explore options’ for a ‘modern, multi-functional facility’.

Spartans had been awarded £580,000 to refurbish, improve and extend the clubhouse as part of the government’s Fiscal Stimulus Fund, which was designed to stimulate the economy following the Covid pandemic. The original plans also included the construction of a 40-metre indoor track.

However, the proposals were scrapped and funding withdrawn after it was discovered that a covenant restricting building on the site had been in place since the land was gifted to the government in the 1920s.

The regulations stated that no more than one building could exist on the site, which also meant that JSAC’s clubhouse has stood illegally for over 20 years, as it was completed after the Geoff Reed Table Tennis Centre in 1999.

However, following the States decision, Orpin says Spartans’ future has become a little clearer.

‘JSAC are delighted to hear that government has voted to remove the covenants on FB Fields,’ she said. ‘Once the new law is in place this will remove the uncertainty around the right of our clubhouse to exist on the site and also open up the opportunity for the club to re-explore options for development of the clubhouse into a more modern, multi-functional facility to benefit our members and the wider community.

‘The club still have an ambition to progress with the plans we had proposed previously for the fiscal stimulus grant, i.e. to create a larger indoor training area that could be used for technical training in the winter months, strength and conditioning, sports hall athletics for our younger athletes, larger yoga classes, as well as social events for our members. The club want to develop a space suitable for our members, but also for the local community.’

FB Fields acts as the home of athletics in Jersey, hosting competitions throughout the year, while JSAC runs its training sessions there four times a week.

In 2021, the government unveiled its Inspiring Active Places strategy, which was described as a ten-year plan to provide a range of ‘high-quality, efficiently-run sports and wellbeing centres’.

Orpin added: ‘FB Fields will fall into the Inspiring Active Places initiative, and the club look forward to working closely with the government and Jersey Sport to ensure any plans JSAC have are incorporated into the wider vision for the site, so that the club can continue to develop participation in athletics within the island for many years to come.’

During the debate, Assistant Economic Development and Infrastructure Minister Lucy Stephenson, who holds political responsibility for sport, spoke of the need to rejuvenate and improve the fields and stated that some of the facilities are ‘not fit for purpose’ in the modern day.

The States decision must go before the Privy Council for final approval and an appointed date set for the changes to the covenant to come into force.

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