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Ground to a Halt
By: Mike Worden
THE continued uncertainty surrounding the new stadium proposals puts a damper on Mariners' fans' optimism for the future, despite a reasonably good start to the season on the field.
Both the Club and fans believe that the new stadium planned for a site adjacent to the A180 at Great Coates, is the only option open to secure the long-term future of professional football in Grimsby. The problem is that the proposals have become well and truly stuck in the planning system.
Some clubs have managed to get planning permission to develop a new stadium without too many problems. Others have got involved in wrangles lasting for years. Grimsby Town has run into difficulties because it is putting forward a difficult scheme at a difficult time.
There are two separate matters. One is the change to the Council's Local Plan, the other is the planning application itself. Contrary to reports circulating in the town in the last couple of weeks, there has actually been little significant change in the position on either recently.
Last year the Council amended its draft Local Plan to make provision for the new stadium. However the preparation of a Local Plan has to follow a set legal procedure because it is an important document that defines how Grimsby and Cleethorpes should develop over the next few years. Its policies will dictate how planning applications in the area will be determined. Objections to the change, including those of the Great Coates residents, have had to be considered by the Council. The Council may not agree with them but legally cannot ignore them.
Consequently the Council has decided to hold an inquiry to examine the objections and this will be overseen by an independent Inspector. He will listen to all of the evidence and make a recommendation to the Council, probably towards the end of next Summer. The stadium is just one of many issues that have to be considered. The inquiry will be held in Cleethorpes Town Hall and will start on 5th February 2002. It will last for about 6 weeks but the Council has yet to sort out when in that period the stadium session will be held and how long it will last for.
After making the decision to change the Local Plan, the Council indicated that it was going to approve the planning application for the stadium. However because the Local Plan is not finalised and because the application is contrary to existing plans for the area, the Council has had to ask the Government if it can proceed and issue the planning permission. This is a common procedure for major applications in similar circumstances.
The article continues in Part Two.
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