St. James’ Park is important to us all.
At the latest meeting of the NUST Board, a submission to the City Council that St James’ Park be designated as an Asset of Community Value was agreed. We have been planning to submit an application for some time but a few legal technicalities had to be checked out. A number of supporters trusts around the country have gone down this route and some case law is developing as a result.
The Localism Act (2011) devolved powers to local communities to nominate places that are important to them as “assets of community value”. The local authority is required to list them for up to five years and places a requirement on owners of the assets to consult with the local community if any significant changes are proposed, particularly if they plan to sell the “asset”.
In Newcastle we are already in a better position than many clubs because the freehold of the land upon which the ground stands is owned by the Freeman of the City and not Mr. Ashley, who owns the club including the stands. We still believe it is an important symbolic statement to make that for people in the north east, our football club and its ground is an integral part of the local community.
The definition of an asset of community value is a building or other land whose main use is to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. This includes cultural interests, recreational interests and sporting interests. Whilst many of us might feel that supporting Newcastle United at St. James’ Park has not done much for our social, or any other wellbeing recently, it is clear that a football stadium is covered by the definition.
A Supporters Trust is an appropriate community body meeting the requirements of being an eligible body under the legislation. We feel it is important to submit this application on behalf of Newcastle fans and the whole community of Tyneside to highlight the importance of St. James’ Park to all of us.
The City Council has up to eight weeks to decide whether or not to list the ground as a community asset and we will keep you informed about the outcome of the application.
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