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Hurdle cleared in plan for new GTFC stadium

EXTREME Leisure has been given the definitive go-ahead to apply for planning permission to build Grimsby Town's Community Stadium at Peaks Parkway.

Hurdle cleared in plan for new GTFC stadium

Members of North East Lincolnshire Council's regeneration, environment and housing scrutiny panel last night dismissed a call-in on the Cabinet's initial decision to give Extreme a five-year option to buy council-owned land off the A16 for the project.

The eight members voted six in favour and two against to push the plans through, which now means Extreme are in the clear to put together a comprehensive planning application outlining the detailed layout and design of the Mariners' new multi-million pound home.

As well as a 14,000-seater community stadium, the wider development would also include sports and leisure facilities including an ice rink to replace the one at Grimsby Leisure Centre, smaller retail units, between 1,400 and 1,600 houses, fast food facilities and 2,000-space car park. All-in-all it will cost in the region of £250 million and make 600 new job vacancies.

The plans were initially called in for further scrutiny by Liberal Democrat councillors, who claimed they believe that the developer has "no experience" and "no greenfield site would be safe from development" if plans eventually go ahead.

Councillors Andrew DeFreitas and Ian Barfield fronted the call-in, heard in front of a packed out Grimsby Town Hall committee room. There wasn't a spare seat in the house and many were denied entry to hear the emotive topic debated once again.

Some of those who did have a seat held up banners against the stadium plans, in a silent protest. When the panel dismissed the call-in, the majority decision was greeted by groans from the public gallery.

In a bid to stall the plans further, the Liberal Democrat councillors highlighted six different reasons why they feel that the plans are unsuitable.

Cllr Barfield pleaded with scrutiny panel members to defer the decision to full council. If not, he said that most councillors will have been "denied" the chance to have their say and that from this point on wards, only a select number of number will have a say.

He questioned why the council is seemingly "bending over backwards" to help Grimsby Town, who find themselves in "difficulty".

He said: "If they can not finance their own expansion, why should the council help."

Cllr Wilson (Lab, West Marsh) explained how he needed to weigh up what is the best decision for the borough as a whole. He said councillors must consider potential increases in capital receipts that could be gained by selling the land, which could fund other ventures in the future. He voted in favour when it came to the vote.

He also asked when expansion of Grimsby cemetery would be necessary, after councillors Barfield and DeFreitas listed restriction on future expansion as one of the six reasons for the call-in.

It was made clear that expansion is estimated to be necessary in 40 years time.

Portfolio holder for regeneration for environment, housing and Scrutiny, Peter Wheatley, "assured" members how he had "taken all the consultation necessary" in contributing to making the decision.

He said: "I've done what's necessary to ensure the council and the tax payers get the best possible deal."

The comments came after it was revealed the council could sell the land for £15,000 per acre.

Councillor Mathew Patrick, portfolio holder for finance, expressed how he was happy to see the decision called in, so to ensure "robust scrutiny".

He said: "We have demonstrated that the site represents value for money."

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