Sta­dium team need to de­feat plan­ners

Call for fans’ sup­port

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Carla Tal­bot

The team lead­ing plans for a new £13.5mil­lion Dumbarton FC sta­dium ex­pect the pro­posal to be rec­om­mended for re­fusal by coun­cil plan­ners.

Club bosses told a fans’ meet­ing they be­lieve the plans for Young’s Farm will not be given the sup­port of plan­ning of­fi­cers due to the land be­ing a green belt site.

But they are hope­ful that the ben­e­fits of de­vel­op­ment will shine through.

Chris Stain­ton, direc­tor of ma­jor­ity share­holder Brabco, and plan­ning con­sul­tant Roddy MacLeod met fans at the cur­rent Cas­tle Road Sta­dium last Thurs­day, where they spoke of their am­bi­tious plans.

The pro­pos­als, which were sub­mit­ted in May, would see a 200-home res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment built on the 28-acre site near Renton Road to fund the new 4000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium.

But Roddy, who has been work­ing on the pro­pos­als for five years, does not think it will be plain sail­ing for the club and called on fans to of­fer their sup­port.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing or­gan­ised by Son­strust, an as­so­ci­a­tion which rep­re­sents the fans, he said: “It is a green belt site and plan­ning of­fi­cers have been quite re­sis­tant to al­low any res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment there.

“I ac­tu­ally ex­pect that the plan­ning of­fi­cers will rec­om­mend that this pro­posal is re­fused but I am hop­ing the com­mit­tee will see the ben­e­fit of this pro­posal.

“What we need is for peo­ple to speak up and of­fer writ­ten and ver­bal sup­port to the project and let the plan­ning com­mit­tee know they want to see this de­vel­op­ment go ahead.”

The fi­nal de­ci­sion on the plans will be made by the coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

De­spite th­ese con­cerns, Roddy claimed the land – which the club hope to sell for £500,000 per acre to fund the new sta­dium – is al­ready gen­er­at­ing in­ter­est among de­vel­op­ers.

He said: “We have tested the mar­ket thor­oughly and we know that there is no com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity there that will pro­vide that level of fund­ing. Res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment is the only op­tion.

“We al­ready have a sig­nif­i­cant level of builder in­ter­est due to other cur­rent de­vel­op­ments in the area.”

The homes would be built along­side the new sta­dium, which would seat twice as many fans as their Cas­tle Road ground.

The de­vel­op­ment would also fea­ture leisure and train­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing all-weather pitches which would be open to the pub­lic.

For the first time fans were given ac­cess to de­tailed in­for­ma­tion sur­round­ing the plans. Is­sues which were raised dur­ing pre­vi­ous meet­ings, such as ma­jor con­cerns re­lated to flood­ing and fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity, were also ad­dressed.

The plans have been al­tered and there is no longer any de­vel­op­ment tak­ing place on the area of land at risk of flood­ing.

Other ob­sta­cles plac­ing the bid un­der jeop­ardy in­clude con­cerns from Glas­gow Air­port about struc­tures over 15m be­ing built on the site.

And West of Scot­land Arche­ol­ogy Ser­vice say the site could be the lo­ca­tion of a house once owned by Robert the Bruce.

But Roddy said th­ese is­sues present no dif­fi­culty in the progress of the plans.

He added: “The site it­self is not straight­for­ward to de­velop and we know there are a lot of chal­lenges to over­come to de­velop here.

“Part of the site also floods quite sig­nif­i­cantly and that is some­thing we have had to work hard to over­come. We are not al­lowed to build in th­ese ar­eas.

“There are a lot of eco­log­i­cal el­e­ments which will need to be con­sid­ered.”

Brabco boss Chris Stain­ton, who took over the project from fel­low direc­tor Ian Wil­son this year fol­low­ing his res­ig­na­tion from the DFC board, in­sisted the sta­dium move is es­sen­tial to sus­tain the fu­ture of the club.

He said it would gen­er­ate a profit for the club in a short space of time, some­thing which is not pos­si­ble at the club’s cur­rent ground.

He said: “Through­out the last few years the club has ben­e­fited from a num­ber of di­rec­tors’ loans and those are not sus­tain­able.

“It’s not clear where the cash to stay where we are is go­ing to come from.

“Stay­ing here presents some sig­nif­i­cant ques­tions that no one has the an­swer to right now.

“On the new site we can in­crease non-match day rev­enue through foot­ball pitches and of­fices which will make it sus­tain­able. We will also have a sink­ing fund, which means the new sta­dium will be sus­tain­able.

“With ev­ery bone in my body I be­lieve that this project will de­liver for the community, for the club and, to be frank, for Brabco it­self.”

The meet­ing was the fifth held be­tween fans and club bosses re­gard­ing the sta­dium project and Son­strust’s Si­mon Bar­row said dis­cus­sions have taken a pos­i­tive turn.

He said: “In April, when we asked who felt con­fi­dent about this project, not one sin­gle per­son raised their hand.

“But now we are be­ing given the in­for­ma­tion we are ask­ing for and we are able to scru­ti­nise the plans and get an­swers.

“We are far more pos­i­tive about the plans now and we are feel­ing much more con­fi­dent about the process.”

Ear­marked The site at Young’s Farm

Plans Roddy Macleod

Pro­posal Club bosses have re­vealed more de­tails of the project

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