Basingstoke Town FC would transform the Camrose stadium into a “community hub” for sports should they be allowed to move back into the ground, the chairman of the club has said.

Kevin White has revealed that the club are planning on developing the current dilapidated site into a “modern hub the whole town can benefit from”, which includes artificial pitches, multi-purpose rooms and a “thriving” clubhouse.

He says that he wants to give the historic stadium “a heartbeat in the community that will be stronger than ever before”.

Basingstoke Town were evicted from their long-term home in 2019 as owner Rafi Razzak prepared to submit planning applications to develop the site into a housing estate and a care home.

They were unanimously rejected by councillors in September 2020, although Mr Razzak and his company Basron have since appealed the decision.

Mr White has also called for Basron to begin discussions with him over the long-term future of the ground, calling on them to “do what is right” in an open letter published in The Gazette.

He labelled the request as “an opportunity to rectify a situation that is being watched with great interest”, saying the “misguided” action of attempting to redevelop the land “completely undermines your long stewardship of the club”.

Now, the club has laid out its plans in a “vision” for the future of the site, which currently stands empty.

It includes development of the Camrose ground into a modern hub to the benefit of the whole town, encompassing artificial football pitches, multi-purpose rooms fit for different activities and a “thriving” clubhouse.

It will also provide a long term home for the club with enough space for the community-run football club to grow and thrive.

“Our aim is to bring back the Camrose and give it a heartbeat in the community that will be stronger than ever before,” Mr White told The Gazette.

“We have spoken to many schools and local grassroots football clubs in the area and it highlights the need for additional artificial pitch facilities for them to train and play on.

“Additionally, we would want to provide multi-purpose space which can be used for different activities.

“The type of rooms that can have a karate class on a Monday, Weight Watchers on Tuesday, art classes on Wednesday for example, and at the weekend host family parties and community get-togethers.”

He continued: “Centre to all of that is a clubhouse where you can enjoy watching sports, meeting business acquaintances or enjoy a nice lunch with friends.

“We have seen, through thorough research in the borough, that there is a huge need for a facility like this and if we can bring this together through the love of our national sport, football, then so much the better.”

The future of the stadium was given a boost last year, when The Gazette discovered a decades-old covenant placed on the ground by Lord Camrose, stating that it must be used as a football stadium until 2053. However, it has been dismissed by Mr Razzak.

After the club mounted a campaign to convince councillors to reject Basron’s plans, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s development control committee made the decision to throw out the applications as the loss of the football pitch was not properly mitigated.

Specifically, councillors decided it did not met a planning policy stating that “replacement facilities must be equivalent or better in terms of quality, quantity and location”, also citing overdevelopment of the area.

The council’s ruling Conservative administration have since said that they would support the club’s wish to return to the ground if a sustainable business plan is presented to them.

And a key part of the plans, which will be submitted to BDBC, is the need to show the hub can be sustainable and how it will benefit the community.

The club’s recently co-opted board member, Mike Gilham, who has extensive experience in the field, said: “When I left the Surrey FA it meant that I was able to work directly with a football club and approached my hometown club, Basingstoke as I feel passionate about what the club is doing.”

He added: “It is clear there is a huge need in the town for this type of facility but not in 15 years time, it is needed now and I just hope the council can see the potential and what a fantastic thing this can be.”

The Camrose is likely to be a hotly debated topic in the run up to next month’s borough council elections.