PERSIMMON Homes WILL buy Bootham Crescent when York City finally move to a new stadium – despite the uncertainties created by the credit crunch.

Andrew Bowes, managing director at the Yorkshire arm of the York-based house builder, said its option agreement to buy the site does not expire until February 2026 and he confirmed the company was “committed” to following through with its planning application for 93 flats and apartments.

The company has been hit hard by the credit crunch and has shelved plans to build 160 new flats at the Barbican.

That was one of 30 schemes involving about 3,000 homes put on ice by Persimmon because of the uncertainty over mortgage markets. Since the beginning of the year, the company has laid off 2,000 workers because of the downturn.

Persimmon are a key plank of the city’s dream to build a community stadium, with the football club investing all of the proceeds of the sale of Bootham Crescent into their new ground.

The company first became interested in the four acres of prime residential land when former York City chairman Douglas Craig put the club up for sale in December 2001. In June 2002, Persimmon submitted a planning application to City of York Council to transform the football ground into 93 flats and apartments.

With the football club’s future still up in the air at the time, thousands of City fans lodged objections to the scheme.

However, the sale of the ground is now absolutely pivotal if the Minstermen are to help raise the money needed to make a community stadium, providing a home for York City, York City Knights and a host of community projects, a reality.

The Press reported yesterday how Bootham Crescent had been valued by council chiefs at £3.7 million while the slump in land values, as a result of the credit crunch, could yet hit hinder plans to build a new ground.

Mr Bowes said: “We have an option agreement to purchase the site which expires in February 2026.

“We are still committed to purchasing the site and will be following through with our planning application currently lodged with City of York Council.

“However, progress on timings is subject to the council’s programme for developing the new ground with York City Football Club.”

Jason McGill, York City’s chairman, said: “Despite the current difficult economic climate Bootham Crescent still remains an incredibly desirable site, which is evident from Persimmon’s positive comments.

“The site is in an excellent location, close to the city centre, with views of York Minster.

“Even with the present economic uncertainty, it is a site which is still extremely valuable and attractive to developers.”