Pools ground Victoria Park officially listed as ‘community asset’ by …

Victoria Park is to be granted official status as an asset to the community after winning the support of councillors.

Hartlepool United Supporters Trust nominated the ground to be listed by Hartlepool Borough Council as an official Asset of Community Value.

It achieves what we as a council have expressed many times

Councillor Chris Simmons

It gives the community six months to have a say in any future plans by the council to sell the ground in Clarence Road, which the authority owns, and come up with their own offer.

The nomination was unanimously approved by the council’s Finance and Policy Committee.

Councillor Chris Simmons said: “I think this nomination really achieves what we as a council have expressed many times when we had people asking to buy it in the past.

“It would offer a degree of further protection that the ground would stay in use as a sports centre for the people of the town.”

The council leases the ground to Hartlepool United on a 70-year lease with 52 years still to run.

Coun Jim Lindridge, a Pools season ticket holder, said: “I think it is a good community asset which is the crown jewels and sends out a great message that we are not selling off the assets that we have got.”

Fellow season ticket holder Coun Alan Clark added: “I think this is a positive step in the right direction.”

Denise Ogden, the council’s director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said in a report the purpose of the process was to allow communities space and time to organise themselves and raise money to submit their own bid if the ground was put up for sale.

She said the club’s new owners JPNG were aware of the nomination.

John McQue, of the recently-formed Hartlepool United Supporters Trust, previously said the application was not a sign of mistrust in the new owners.

The paperwork was submitted back in March when there was much uncertainty around the expected takeover by TMH which unexpectedly fell through.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, chairman of the Finance and Policy Committee said: “I think the council have always felt it was a community asset.”

In nominating the ground for the listing the fans group highlighted the money the football club generates for the town and also its wide range of work in support of the community.

They said: “One of the most important types of assets in any community is its land and buildings. In terms of football stadia, it is highly likely that they hold iconic status as well as community enterprise potential. As a result, the Community Right to Bid is a way a supporters organisation can help to secure the long term future of this treasured asset.”

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