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The Great Coates Vs GTFC Stadium Battle Begins!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 08/02/2002

AS EXPECTED, with the government withdrawing its objection to the New Grimsby Town stadium, bringing the planning permission nearer, the objectors to the scheme are now voicing their concerns once again.

The Grimsby Telegraph reported today that the developers have invited the villagers of Great Coates to join a Residents' Liaison Group to discuss the proposed new stadium.

"We are committed to working with the residents of Great Coates to address any concerns and minimise any impact during both the construction and operation phases of the development. To this end we intend to set up a Residents' Liaison Group, which can come into operation as soon as the local community wishes."

The report also stated that a legal agreement between the landowner, Sir Richard Sutton Settled Estates, North East Lincolnshire Council and the developers is due "within weeks".

Ray Lawrance, Grimsby Town fans favourite shopkeeper (LOL), who is vice-chairman of the Great Coates Civic Society, said "The developer's announcement was cynically orchestrated to coincide with the poor performance of the team."

"There is undue haste. This letter has come after that display on Saturday. It is obvious the club will be relegated," saying it was designed to put pressure on the council before the team is demoted.

He said the proposed stadium will be smaller than Scunthorpe's Glanford Park ground and will be next to a retail park. "The chaos that will ensue with shoppers mixing with supporters, steaming through - is unimaginable. No retailer is going to want to open there."

Mr Lawrance said villagers are determined the development will not go ahead and the developers were moving the stadium from one residential area to another, and predicted a 20 per cent drop in house prices.

He said he could not divulge what actions the residents opposed to the scheme will take to prevent the development

Mr Knight, on the other hand, said there has been no undue haste after two and a half years of talks and official studies of the scheme. "We did not choose the timeframe. It is nothing to do with going slowly or quickly. No retailers are on-line to move into the proposed development. Until we have planning consent we can't expect retailers to talk to us seriously. After consent we will have a marketing campaign and enter into discussions with them.

In challenging the statement that football and retailing don't mix, he said: "Look at Bolton in the Reebok Stadium, Huddersfield at the McAlpine Stadium and Oldham are going to build a retail park. There are many examples. Property in the Great Coates area will be enhanced, not devalued, because of the new facilities, including shops, recreational facilities and playing fields."

Billo says: This will be one of many skirmishes before the battle is over. Mr Lawrance and his supporters can appeal to the high court causing delays but with the government now backing the scheme, their chances of success are not great as most similar appeals have been turned down.

From his comments and what appears to be his expert opinion on Grimsby Town's chances of survival, it appears that Mr Lawrance could well be a closet supporter of the Mariners.

If that is the case, Welcome aboard Mr Lawrance. We need as many as we can get!!

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