THE much-debated Camrose covenant could be enforceable, a lawyer has said.

The decades-old document states that the football ground on Winchester Road should remain in use as a sports venue until 2053.

It was uncovered by The Gazette in February through using the Land Registry after the public and media were told for years that it was lost or missing.

In 2017, the council's former head of planning told a committee that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's legal team could find "no documentary evidence" of a covenant. 

When The Gazette asked the council, after unearthing the covenant through public records, why this was their position, they did not respond. 

Additionally, documents suggest that the covenant was still on the ground when former Basingstoke Town FC chairman Rafi Razzak bought the freehold of the Camrose ground in 2016.

This latest development comes just hours before Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council make a decision on two planning applications on the site.

Speaking to The Gazette, partner of Reading-based solicitors Blandy & Blandy, Karen Jones, said: "It is possible that the covenant could be enforceable.

"A covenant is there and it could be enforceable, it makes a difference in the sense that [Basron owner Rafi Razzak] is aware of it and will have to do something to say it can't be enforced or get rid of it.

"Usually, the only way to get rid of it is to say it is not enforceable."

As previously reported, a covenant was placed on the ground by Lord William Berry, first Viscount Camrose in 1953, after he gifted the land to the town and its football club. The document said:

  • No buildings or erection shall be planned or allowed on the land which is not a Football or Sports Ground.
  • Not to erect or permit to be erected on the said land any buildings with out the written consent of the lessors and the tennants can only erect building connected with purpose already mentioned above.
  • Not to carry on or permit to be carried on any trade or business upon the said land only to use or allow to permit the same to be used in a proper and orderly manner as a Football or Sports Ground which is purpose of this lease.

The agreement between Lord Camrose and the then-owners of Basingstoke Town Football Club says that the land, “laid out for the playing of football”, must be a “football or sports ground” throughout the period of the covenant, with “no buildings or erection ... placed or allowed to remain on the land.”

It continues to say that no business should be allowed on the land other than a football ground.

Since February, there has been continual debate about whether the covenant still applies, with the sale of the freehold from Lord Camrose's estate to Basron in 2016 sparking debate about whether the covenant went with it.

And Ms Jones acknowledges that "the crux of the issue is whether the covenant is still enforceable after it has been sold on".

Land Registry documents seen by The Gazette seem to indicate that the covenant was transferred to Mr Razzak when he purchased the stadium in 2016.

They state: "The Transfer to the proprietor contains a covenant to observe and perform the covenants by the landlord contained in the lease dated 12 November 1953 referred to in the Charges Register and of indemnity in respect thereof."

Mr Razzak has previously called debate over the covenant “ridiculous”.

He said: “It has saddened me that it has come to this after 22 years at the football club. What would I gain with that support for 20 years?

“The money I put down was to help the club to build a stadium at National League standard.

“I did it for the right reasons for the football club and the community, like everything else I have done.

“There is no future at the Camrose. The club needed £100,000 a year to continue to play at the Camrose which I funded myself for 20 years. I have had enough of funding the club.”

Fans of the club have called on the council to not grant permission for a care home and almost 90 apartments that is currently planned on the site, citing the covenant.

Those applications are due to be decided on tonight (Wednesday), with councillors on the development control committee to have the final say.