'No greenfield site safe from development' as Grimsby Town stadium plan 'called in'

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 17 Mar 2017

As the decision over plans for a new community stadium have been called in for further scrutiny, local councillors say they believe that the developer has "no experience" and "no greenfield site would be safe from development" if plans eventually go ahead.

As reported last week, Liberal Democrat Councillors Andrew DeFreitas and Ian Barfield have called in the decision after councillors unanimously gave developers Extreme a five-year option to buy council-owned land off Peaks Parkway for the project, subject to the necessary planning permissions being approved.

The agreement between the Mariners and Extreme Leisure is expected to see a £250 million investment in the project – which would be situated at Peaks Parkway and is expected to create in excess of 600 full-time jobs.

As well as a 14,000-seater community stadium, the wider development would also include sports and leisure facilities including an ice rink to replace the one at Grimsby Leisure Centre, smaller retail units, between 1,400 and 1,600 houses, fast food facilities and 2,000-space car park.

However, the Liberal Democrat Councillors have highlighted six different reasons why they feel that the plans are unsuitable, stating that they feel "Extreme have never build a house or a football stadium, they have no experience of such a development."

They also believe that other uses for the land the proposed stadium will be built on have not even been considered, the developer has over estimated the value of the land and the plans could go before the planning committee without the approval of a scrutiny panel or the full council.

The councillors are also concerned about the allocation of a greenfield site for the development, believing that there are other far more suitable locations to build a stadium that wouldn't put a greenfield site at risk, and in allowing a stadium to be developed at this location would only "set a precedent that a greenfield site may be sacrificed for sufficient investment."

It is also a worry that the development would hinder any future expansion of the cemetery, and the councillors feel that they should not burden any future councils with a tough decision, if the cemetery had to be expanded.

Speaking at a fans' forum, John Fenty said: "We're delighted the cabinet made the decision to novate an option to Extreme, who are the intended developers. Unfortunately, that decision has been called in. It means the council's decision will be brought into question, and that will be debated.

"I believe there will be a recommendation to proceed, so I think we're in a good spot in that regard. The stadium will be on leased land. The whole site now is going to be purchased by Extreme as part of the overall development. We're going to have an agreement with Extreme which will give us 999 years lease, which is as good as ownership in anyone's language, and the community stadium will be owned by the football club. I think that it's absolutely pertinent that we thank the council.

"They've been extremely co-operative. They've had to put their necks on the chopping block to support that decision last week, I think it's a brave decision, and personally I would like to thank the council for all the work that they've done on this."

The community stadium plans are due to be discussed at the next meeting of the Regeneration, Environment and Housing Scrutiny Panel, that is due to take place on Tuesday, March 21, at 6.30pm in Grimsby's Town Hall.

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