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Now or Never!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 28/10/2006

THAT is the call from Grimsby Town chairman John Fenty as he awaits a date with destiny for the club's new stadium proposals. 10 months after submitting the application for the new Conoco stadium, a hearing by North East Lincolnshire Council's planning committee is thought to be imminent.

On the re-launch of the stadium project some months ago, Mr Fenty said;

"We are really excited that we are now able to relaunch the stadium scheme. We have been approached by the Burford Group, a well established developer with a strong track record in retail warehouse development, and have been working with them to progress the project."

"They have carried out initial feasibility studies, taken soundings from retailers and are keen to take forward the development as soon as the club has secured council support for the scheme.

"It is important that we have the earliest possible approval from the planning committee. Only then will others take this project seriously and work with us to deliver the scheme.

"It is therefore vital that both we and the council act quickly to seize a development opportunity that is in the best interests not simply of the football club but of the town as a whole. The new stadium would make a massive contribution to the socio-economic well-being of Grimsby, guarantee the future of Grimsby Town Football Club and add immeasurably to the prestige of the town."

Today, the club stated;

Both the football club and the local authority have done a tremendous amount of background work to support the Great Coates scheme, and now the crucial moment is nearly upon the club. And having spent more than £1-million since the millennium on their plans for a new home, the club cannot afford to wait any longer.

The new Conoco stadium as it will be named, and its improved income streams will help the club to compete, it is the only hope the Mariners have of reclaiming the 'Championship' status that was theirs for most of the Nineties.

Should the stadium not happen Mr Fenty believes the survival of the club is in serious jeopardy.

He said: "The club urgently needs planning permission now to be given an opportunity to deliver the scheme. One thing we do not have is time."

Stressing the need for urgency, he added: "Year after year the club relies on financial support by its directors to survive. It is unreasonable to expect this to continue."

"We simply cannot compete against those that have already relocated or have much bigger income streams. The club is falling behind and is in danger of losing Football League status and even going out of business."

The application is fully supported by the council's own adopted policy to relocate the club. It includes a 20,100 seater-stadium with a first phase of a minimum of 12,000 seats, a retail enabling development, 3 community training pitches and, a 700-space park-and-ride scheme submitted in January. The retail development is vital to the whole scheme as it will pay for the land and provide £10.7 million towards the stadium, infrastructure and, park-and-ride costs.

Mr Fenty said: "More than 12 years ago the directors were considering redeveloping Blundell Park, when the club was asked by the council to consider relocating to the outskirts of town because of planning constraints and traffic congestion on match days.

"Humberside, Grimsby, and Cleethorpes councils together with the club shared the cost of a consultants' study to look for an appropriate site. North East Lincolnshire Council then repeated the study in 2000. Both studies concluded that Great Coates provided the best solution. This was further ratified by an independent government planning inspector."

Of the application, Mr Fenty added: "The scheme is well considered with an unprecedented amount of detail behind the outline planning application. The highest consideration has been given to the development with particular attention towards protection for Great Coates residents and the environment, including a green travel plan which will provide excellent connections to the facility and deliver benefits for the whole community."

A ROLLING question and answer forum is being opened by the Grimsby Telegraph together with Grimsby Town's board of directors.

Simply send your question to us, and we'll get you an answer.


or write to:

Stadium Forum
Grimsby Telegraph
80 Cleethorpe Road
Grimsby, DN31 3EH.

Stages Of The Stadium ... The Story So Far
Grimsby Borough Council commissioned a report to identify the best site for potential relocation of GTFC.
November 1999
planning application submitted by the club, along with supporting information including an up to date study of potential sites, which concluded that the Great Coates A180 Interchange site was the only suitable one.
January 2000
submission made by GTFC suggesting allocation of the Great Coates Interchange site in the council's Local Plan.
July 2000
NELC commissioned specialist consultants Gerald Eve to carry out an independent study of possible relocation sites. It concluded that the Great Coates Interchange site was the most suitable.
December 2000
NELC resolved to allocate the Great Coates Interchange site in the Local Plan.
January 2001
NELC resolved to approve the club's planning application.
December 2001
Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber decided not to intervene and to allow NELC to issue the planning permission.
April 2002
Local Plan Inquiry held, including examination of Great Coates Interchange site and objections of local residents.
April 2002
Conoco revealed as new stadium sponsors.
November 2002
Inspector's report published recommending the retention of Policy LTC6 (football stadium relocation) in the Local Plan.
April 2003
NELC refuse planning application because Section 106 - a clause to protect amenities, like road networks - was not able to be signed.
November 2003
NELC's Local Plan is adopted including the policy to relocate the football stadium to the Great Coates Interchange site.
October 2005
Grimsby Town bring the plans back to the fore.
January 2006
New planning application submitted to NELC.

Link: New Stadium

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