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Consultants Verdict

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 02/10/2000

The news has arrived at long last that the stadium debate reopens for real on October 9th, when the council discusses the report it commissioned by consultants Gerald Eve Chartered Surveyor. Clearly the new stadium is, and will continue being, a major topic of debate and I make no apologies for mentioning it - once more -in this column.

The Fishy exclusively revealed the report's conclusion that only Great Coates (known to the consultants as Site A) will do. Not only will it create a magnificent landmark and entrance to Grimsby and Cleethorpes but allows a limited and much sought after retail development that will subsidise the building of the stadium itself. I could put my opinions forward - economic, social and others - but let the council's independent consultants' report put the arguments forward as why we should be in Great Coates.

Gerald Eve state in their report's conclusion: "It is this combination of the strength of the commercial location, accessibility by a variety of means of transport and the absence of any major conflicts with policy which establish Great Coates Site A as the only acceptable site in our opinion for the development proposed. Whilst it is a site which demands careful attention to detail in terms of landscaping measures and the creation of a buffer zone, the overall landholding is sufficient to accommodate these requirements and is very well contained within man made and defensible barriers to prevent future proliferation of commercial uses in the locality".

So let me get this straight, it's commercially viable (able to subsidise the building of the stadium), has loads of scope for transport by car and non-car, it doesn't conflict with policy - including planning guidance (the site has a resolution to grant planning permission for employment related uses some years ago), and in their view it's the best.

It looks like even the folks of Great Coates Civic Society will have limited room for argument. Careful detail to 'screening and landscaping' will create the 'buffer zone' to their precious little boxes. Much better, after all, to have a bedroom view of the factories and the old United Biscuits' building than an elegant local landmark.

And Great Coates can rest assured there isn't any room for further development (the site is effectively landlocked by the railway and roads, so no there is prospect of burgeoning out-of-town development). It can't threaten Freshney Place then Cllr DeFreitas!

But and it's a BIG BUT. The Great Coates Society will not rest, they will not be silenced. Only this weekend residents of the village (extended housing development of Grimsby) have been called to action by Val Winn, Chair of Great Coates Civic Society, "We are holding a meeting on Wednesday 4 October at 7:45pm in the Reading Room, please do come and support us. We are about to enter round two of the football stadium fight, our reasons for not allowing this development in our village (housing estate) are just the same as they were three months ago, we are now much stronger and have more credibility, we now have to look at plan B..please make every effort to attend, (here's the best bit) I am sure that the weight of numbers was an influencing factor at the last meeting". Maybe so but last time the incredible decision was a bolt from the blue!

Not this time Chair Winn, if it's the numbers game you want to play - You lose! - See you at the council meeting. I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a good deal many more attending supporting the stadium development than are against.

When a decision will be finally made is still unclear and its probably at a meeting after the 9th October but we will know one way or another within this month.

Still, on a positive note, this report gives the council the opportunity to reverse its decision. With the development enjoying the overwhelming support of the community they have a golden opportunity to right the wrong and extricate themselves from the earlier decision with some dignity intact. They can argue that they have not reached the decision lightly, there has been an independent report and no other site offers such potential, and we (the council) have listened to the wishes of our voters. Should an appeal be forthcoming from the Great Coates Civic Society, ironically this report will demonstrate to the inspectors that all the I's have been dotted and the T's crossed. So any legal advice the Civic Society receive will hopefully reflect on this costly course of action and on their diminished chances of success.

If it is challenged the council has avoided haste and should not need to repent at leisure.

The final word cannot belong to the Great Coates Civic Society, whose mandate is questionable at the best of times. I don't recall a ballot of all the residents of Great Coates.

The final word belongs to those independent consultants Gerald Eve. The report concludes, " After giving careful consideration to matters of land identification, and the alternatives available, it is our conclusion and recommendation that Great Coates Site A, the current application site offers the best combination of suitability for purpose with considerations of planning, transportation, and commercial viability and the control which will be essential to successful funding and delivery of the stadium project. Final selection of a site is of course a matter for Members having regard to the advice of Officers".

Well the council officers won't change their minds, they recommended it first time round! Come on councillors - you can do it. We all make mistakes!

A new stadium in Great Coates - That'll be the Dayoo!

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