The Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust has launched a petition to officially designate The Valley as an “asset of community value” to protect the historic ground from being sold for development.
There’s no suggestion that the stadium is in any immediate danger of being sold, and relations between the relatively new trust and the club are good.
Instead, it recognises the fact that almost every club in England outside the Premier League is in permanent financial peril – and given Charlton’s unhappy history of ground moves, it makes sense to safeguard the ground in case any new owners plan to sell up.
Even if Charlton are successful, this isn’t a totally unlikely scenario – Greenwich Council planning masterplans show a possible stadium on the west side of the Greenwich Peninsula, and it’s felt by some that this would be an option if the club were to return to the Premier League, given the natural restrictions on developing what used to be the biggest ground in the League.
Charlton moved to share Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park ground in 1985, returning in 1992 via a short spell at West Ham. Even earlier in the club’s history, it spent a disastrous year at a ground in Catford called The Mount (now Mountsfield Park) in the 1920s.
So what is an asset of community value? Quite simply, every council is now required to keep a register of places which are deemed valuable to their local communities. If the council approves this application, then if the property is ever sold, then a six-month block is placed on the sale to enable local community groups to bid. Nominations have to come from community groups, rather than individuals. Assets can include community centres, libraries, pubs, open spaces and more.
At present, Greenwich Council does not have an register of assets, but Lewisham has registered the Baring Hall Hotel pub in Grove Park and an artists’ studio in New Cross. So it’s easy to see where The Valley fits in – indeed, Manchester United fans are making similar moves to protect Old Trafford.
So, what else locally should be on this register? The Place Station allows anyone to list places they think could or should be on the list – in Charlton, I added the old St Austin’s sports field in Highcombe, and the summer house (ex-public toilets) outside Charlton House. That said, it’s possible neither would qualify because they’ve been out of use for so long, but just outside SE7, I added East Greenwich Library (due to be sold by the council) and Hervey Road Playing Field too.
But what else could go on there? The biggie’s Charlton House – itself due to be moved to a heritage trust soon. But where else? Charlton Assembly Rooms? The pet cemetery in Hornfair Park? The Old Cottage Cafe in Charlton Park?
These are just suggestions – where else do you think could benefit from special protection? Share it here – and The Place Station would also like to know, too.