Feb 7 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
PLANS to demolish Burscough’s Victoria Park ground to create 76 apartments and houses and a new community stadium complex are set to be greenlit.
Burscough FC owner Martin Gilchrist said the proposals were “essential” to secure the future of the club, and would create a prominent community sporting facility.
But while 13 letters of support were submitted, there have also been 22 letters of objection, citing issues over traffic, drainage and parking and loss of Green Belt land.
A report to go before the council’s planning committee tonight recommends the decision be delegated to the borough planner for approval subject to a string of conditions – including an agreement the ground is built at the same time as the sports facilities, to try to ensure that the houses are not the only part of the scheme delivered.
But Burscough Parish Council has raised concerns that the conditions proposed aren’t robust enough to ensure the houses would not be build before the stadium, leaving the club without a home. It is set to call for a deferral pending reassurance about the timing of the build.
The original application was submitted in June 2007 by Burscough FC Ltd and Glenroyd Developments.
But the scheme failed to materialise after the club suffered financial difficulties. Modified plans resubmitted by the new owners last year would see:
Victoria Park demolished for a 76-home development and 104 parking spaces.
A 164-space car park built on the nearby council-owned hard court
A 500-seat community stadium built on farmland by the railway line
A floodlit artificial grass sports pitch, two full-size grass pitches and six junior grass pitches built on the remaining farmland.
A profit of £2.9m is forecast from the housing development, which will be used to deliver the £3.8m sports complex, alongside potential FA grant funds and investment of £1.3m from Eze Fitness – in return for a 25-year contract to manage the sport facilities.
Documents submitted to the council include details of contingencies for funding – including a £1m private investment and “serious interest” shown by a Swedish bank in lending up to £4m.
Mr Gilchrist – who has stated if approval is granted the stadium could be built within 18 months – said: “We want to build something the community can benefit from. A chartered accountant has gone through this and put it together, it does work and there’s contingencies in place if we can’t get the grant funding to cover costs. There’s a legal agreement that the football club will be built first – there should be no concern that the houses will be built and not the stadium.
“It’s about creating community facilities – primary schools will be able to use them – as well as having a stadium that’s in use seven days a week. We want to be competing with Southport with gates of 1,500, and this will help us achieve that.”
David Lowe, chair of the supporters club, said that he would back the plan as long as the new ground was built before Victoria Park was demolished.