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Stadium Blow

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 13/08/2008

GRIMSBY'S plans to build a new stadium have received a blow after a rival retail scheme by Henry Boot Development Ltd was given the go ahead by NELC planners last week. The £30-million Wharf Retail Park would create 11 new stores which may affect the feasibility of the development at Great Coates.

As a consequence Town's plans will have to be "reappraised" and "reassessed", according to the club, although they still intend to go ahead with the new stadium, which is essential for the club's long-term financial security.

Developers Henry Boot made a High Court application by for a judicial review into Grimsby Town's proposed new stadium, which did not succeed in April. However since then they have pressed ahead with their own retail scheme, which. has now been approved,

Chairman John Fenty, who now ironically is also a councillor with NELC, told the Grimsby Telegraph: "More detailed design work is now necessary to deliver the scheme. The new stadium is, however, dependent upon an enabling development to fund the construction. Competition created by the Garth Lane scheme will force a reappraisal of the overall scheme. "

The Town supremo was upset that his colleagues on the council had given the nod to the rival development. "All at the club are disappointed that the Garth Lane scheme has been approved by the council. I am concerned about anything that has the potential to delay or frustrate the club's primary aim, which is delivering a new stadium," said Fenty,

Brad Critcher, managing director of Grimsby's stadium partners Castlemore Securities, said: "We remain committed to the scheme and delivering the new football stadium. We were pleased to note that Henry Boot had amended its proposals to take account of the consent for the football club."

Vivienne Clements, the Henry Boot Developments director who has overseen Wharf Retail Park's conception did however believe that there is room for both schemes in the Town, despite the firm's high court application to block Town's ground earlier this year.

She said: "We effectively already did a retail impact assessment. Following the local authority granting consent for the football stadium, we undertook a further retail impact assessment to see that there is room for retail on both projects.

"The two schemes stand alone and I don't see why they can't exist together. Ours is a regeneration scheme for town centre retailers, and they will look at out-of-town retailers. Our plans have been in the public domain for a long time and I am only interested in delivering our scheme."

Grim Rob Says:

Town's new ground has had a troubled history to say the least. One of the biggest obstacles has always been the lack of foresight amongst the NELC planners as to the benefit of a new stadium for the whole region. Thousands of additional fans would come to Grimsby and spend their money in the new stadium, all benefitting the local economy. It's unlikely that yet another retail area in the town centre will draw significant people from outside the town to it.

The club has of course no choice but to press ahead but it's depressing to think that the whole town is still not onside with the proposals.

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