Crunch talks loom over new 'iconic' city stadium

Crunch talks loom over new 'iconic' city stadium

The Nestl site from the air

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Possible new sites

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , News editor

Nestlé could become the new home of York City's new super stadium, The Press can reveal, amid fears the club's move to the York Central site could be scuppered.

Land at the northern end of the confectioners' factory is one of several sites to be looked at by the football club.

The club's stadium development manager Ian McAndrew today revealed he feared the development of York Central could take too long, or prove too costly, for them.

Next week, he will hold a crunch meeting with City of York Council's director of city strategy Bill Woolley, to discuss the way ahead.

City look at Nestlé site for new ground

YORK City are considering building a new super stadium at the Nestlé Rowntree complex, The Press has learned.

Land at the northern end of the confectioners' factory is one of several sites to be looked at by the football club, amid fears that their preferred move to York Central could be scuppered.

The club's stadium development manager, Ian McAndrew, today revealed he feared the development of York Central could take too long, or prove too costly, for them.

Next week, he will hold a crunch meeting with City of York Council's director of city strategy, Bill Woolley, to discuss the way ahead and to look at alternatives.

Mr McAndrew said all parties had to determine whether they were developing "a stadium for the city of York, or a stadium for York City."

He said this was a "one-off chance" to create an "iconic stadium", which could not only be a sports facility but also a concert venue, allowing the club to generate more income.

He said York Central was still top of their list, but said: "If anything worries me, it is timing.

"There are no doubts in my mind that it's a great position, but it also has to be viable.

"But it might take too long or be too expensive. We have to have alternatives up our sleeves."

He said he would be exploring whether the club could use land within the current Nestlé site between Haxby Road and Wigginton Road.

He said Huntington Stadium and land near York Designer Outlet near Naburn were also possibilities.

Mr McAndrew said: "We will establish where they the council are with the Local Development Framework and action plan, then establish a list of alternative possible sites.

"It will be a potential list, rather than in any way specific.

"Discussions will take place along the lines of - if Nestlé is coming on to the market, is there potential with Nestlé?

"We did this with Terry's, but there was no space within Terry's. We will follow the same process. Nestlé is one that will be on the list, but so will other sites."

A Nestlé spokeswoman said: "Yes, York City are looking at us as one of the options, but it's early stages of the discussion process."

On Huntington, Mr McAndrew said: "Huntington Stadium has always got to be there on the list, because it currently is a stadium.

"The complications are the planning processes. Somebody else may say there is a stadium there - why are you not using that?'.

"We will need to say why that is not our first choice."

As previously reported in The Press, to avoid financial penalties on their £2 million loan from the Football Foundation, City must identify a site for relocation this year, secure planning permission by 2009, and move by 2015.

But Mr McAndrew said getting the decision right was the priority.

He said they did not want to pay interest longer than necessary, but said the financial penalties were not too severe an issue.

Council committed to search

CITY of York Council leader Steve Galloway said: "We are fully committed to helping York City find a new home within the time limits laid down by the Football Foundation. I speak with Jason McGill (City's managing director) frequently on the topic.

"Our preference is, for planning reasons, to find a brownfield site - one that has been previously developed - because it would be much easier to get planning permission and it would also be easier to deal with the major transport implications involved in any stadium project."

He added: "A planning analysis is being conducted, not just for York Central but also the almost adjacent British Sugar site, and we expect to have the results of that available in two to three months, and that will give us a clear idea of what's possible and when."

'Consider sites away from York Central

CITY should face up to realities and look at sites away from York Central, according to local councillor Ken King.

Coun King said that site would be too expensive for them, and welcomed news of the Nestlé option.

He said: "It's a necessity that they find cheaper land, and if the Nestlé site fits the bill, then certainly after consultation with residents in that area I would be fully supportive of it."

He said the football club should learn from the experience of their rugby league counterparts.

He said: "When York Rugby League Club moved from Clarence Street out to Huntington, I knew the minute they were going it was going to be a bad move, and they did lose a lot of support.

"It's critical that if City want to keep their support, they have got to find a ground somewhere in the locality where they are now."

York residents around Nestlé gave a mixed reaction to the proposals.

Nigel Dale, 39 said: "I think it's a good thing. The traffic isn't a problem for me as I don't drive. Despite the fact football crowds have a bad reputation, I don't think it would be that bad.

"I think where the City ground is now is a bigger problem. This is a better site."

But Sue Wilcock, 54, said: "It will be chaotic. I am a driver and the traffic is bad enough with the hospital anyway.

"On match nights it will be even worse. There's plenty of room in the outskirts such as Clifton Moor. It's stupid."

Chris Snelling, 20, said: "I don't think having a football ground here would be a good thing. You don't know what football fans will do when they are excited or really depressed after a bad match or a good match. Obviously the traffic is an issue as this road is busy as it is. They should build it somewhere slightly further out."

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