The passage of Warwick District Council’s Local Plan has been anything but a smooth one and, even before it goes out to public examination, it faces challenges from a number of directions.
The decision not to proceed with land on Stratford Road, Warwick, as a gypsy and traveller site is, I am sure, good news for people in the locality, but it could be very bad news for fans of Leamington Football Club.
The assessment carried out by Salford University identified a need for 31 pitches over a 15-year period, 25 of which must be found within the first five years (2017/18) and the remainder over the following 10 years. In addition, there is a need for 12 transit pitches.
The Stratford Road site would have, in all likelihood, have been brought on stream first, allowing time to relocate the football club to Gallows Hill, if that proves a viable alternative to Harbury Lane and is agreed by shareholders.
But, the situation has changed and, with no other site included in the Local Plan other then a small one off Europa Way for transit pitches, the NWG will have to be brought into use earlier. So where does that leave the football club if Gallows Hill, for whatever reason, either doesn’t materialise or has a longer timescale than 2018?
One of the objections I made during the consultation on sites was on timescale and the need for a new ground to be operational before the New Windmill Ground could be vacated. No business case has yet been presented to shareholders but, if a move is finally approved, the club board and council will still have a lot of work to do to bring the Gallows Hill proposal to fruition, including land assembly, planning and finance.
A fully functioning stadium can’t be built overnight.
David Hucker, Wimpstone, Stratford upon Avon