AFTER more than a decade of waiting York’s Community Stadium has been given the go-ahead.

A detailed planning application for the new stadium and sports complex was today given the green light by the City of York Council’s planning committee.

A three and a half hour meeting ended with not a single vote against the scheme.

York City chairman Jason McGill said: “I am absolutely elated.

“It’s quite emotional. Since 2004 we have pursued this, and we were promised we would be in by 2011. Although it’s been difficult to keep funding the football club in an out of date stadium I think the delay has enabled us to get more community benefits. What the city is getting is wonderful.

“The last ten or so years have been about saving a football club, now it’s about building one.”

The crucial meeting came just days before the cut off for significant decisions ahead of the election, and after days of increasing confusion over York City Knights’ part in the project.

The day before the Knights’ John Guildford had submitted a 29 page long objection to the plans, but in the meeting told the committee he “fully supported” a community stadium.

But, he added, while he had been fully on board with the smaller scheme in the 2012 outline planning application he could not support the new much larger plans.

“The retail has just taken over, it’s become a nightmare,” he added.

But Mr Guildford’s speech was just one note of caution among an overwhelmingly show of support from other groups involved.

The Knights Independent Supporters’ Society’s Gary Hall implored the committee to approve the plans, saying with the two professional clubs all sport in York will suffer.

Mr McGill said that without the stadium York City would simply cease to exist, while the Explore Library service’s Fiona Williams said their place in the new complex would help them reach many more people.

It also got the enthusiastic backing of the York Hospital boss Pat Crowley, who said the space for an NHS hub at the new complex would relieve pressure on the hospital, inspire young sports stars, and improve the health of people across the city.

He added: “Local health services are strong and committed supporters for the stadium project.”

Councillors too were strongly in favour of the scheme - with many saying they would put aside significant concerns about the extra retail space, parking, traffic and congestion to support the scheme.

At the end of the three and a half hour meeting, 16 voted in favour of the plans while only the independent councillor Mark Warters abstained.

Speaking afterwards, project manager Tim Atkins said it was a significant milestone in a long journey that had involved a lot of hard work.

“It’s fantastic because there was so much support with all bar one of the councillors voting for it and saying such strong things.”

Throughout the project it has been hard to communication how much more than rugby and football the stadium project would provide.

“I think we’ve overcome that today,” he added.

Mr Atkins said: “It’s now got to be referred to the Secretary of State, and we are hoping that it will come back before the election - it is possible.”

Mr McGill also thanked the fans, councillors and council staff who have supported the scheme.

See a live blog from yesterday's meeting here.


Decision ‘can spur City to survival’

YORK City boss Russ Wilcox reckons the knowledge that a brand new stadium is on the horizon can act as an extra spur during the first team’s battle to stay in the Football League, writes York City reporter Dave Flett.

The council gave the Monks Cross community stadium project the green light yesterday in a meeting that was attended by Wilcox, his backroom staff, the first-team squad and junior side.

City are due to play their last campaign at Bootham Crescent next term before relocating for the start of 2016/17 with Wilcox saying: “I think the realism about the need to stay up has always been there, but the prospect of moving into a new stadium as a Football League club should add to that incentive.

Everything is in place now off the pitch and it’s down to us to make sure we survive and push forward next season. All the players, management staff, academy coaches and youth-team players went to the meeting because we are all united behind the project.

“There’s been a lot of hard work put into the process to get this go ahead, particularly from our board members and everyone has presented the case for a new stadium really well, so I am delighted it has been passed.”