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Grounds for Hope?

By: Chris Parrott et al
Date: 25/10/2001

A LOT of support has been shown recently for the new stadium plans (e.g. the petition on this site). A handful of exiles have been digging around to see what fans can practically do within the context of the impending Inquiry to show their support for the stadium proposal.

Home > Features > Grounds For Hope?

In good mini-series fashion, we start with a recap.

Current Position

NELC approved a change to the local development plan to accommodate the new stadium proposals. Some Great Coates residents continue to object despite modifications to address some of their (understandable) concerns. Due to the on-going objections and apparent breach of government policy on out-of-town developments, the changes to the local development plan will be subject to an Inquiry led by an independent Inspector.

The Inquiry (boring but important)

The Inquiry itself starts in February 2002 with a pre-inquiry hearing on 6 November (at Cleethorpes Town Hall). The pre-inquiry meeting deals with administrative issues and will outline the procedure and timetable for the Inquiry. The new stadium is only one of a number of issues that the Inquiry will consider. The Inquiry itself will consider the objections submitted to the Council earlier this year, the Council’s response to those objections and current government policy on issues such as retail developments and greenfield sites. The possible outcomes could be: acceptance of the NELC policy for the stadium; complete rejection of the policy; or an amended policy to attempt to address some of the objector’s concerns including those raised by the DTLR.

The Inquiry process permits other interested parties to submit "supporting representations". Unfortunately we have missed the deadline for making supporting representations as fans in our own right (who knew about it?). On the basis that it does not feel our input would add anything to their evidence, and because of precedents, the Council has chosen not to place any supporting representations made at this late stage before the Inspector. But, the Planning Office has said that it will put on file any letters we do write and make the Inspector aware of them. It would then be at the Inspector’s discretion whether to take them into account and what weight to attach to them.

Is it hopeless? Not entirely

We believe if enough people submit well-reasoned letters and statements that address the issues that the Inspector will consider, supporters’ views will be harder to ignore.

The key issues and the points we should be making are:

1.0 Local objections about the "loss of amenity" to Great Coates residents (i.e. the loss of peace & quiet etc.) are understandable but possibly misplaced. It might be argued that the visual outlook could be improved through landscaping.

2.0 Government Policy

2.1 Out-of-town retail development taking away business from (and the possible closure of) town centre shops together with its encouragement for more car journeys. Difficult to argue against unless it can be shown that the new facilities are not currently available and will complement rather than compete with town centre shops.

2.2 Transport - i.e. extra car journeys to the new site. Against this we could point out that:

  • Many people already drive to BP (home & away fans) from GY and Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire and other parts of the country. If you do then please say so.
  • The traffic problems and pollution created on matchdays at BP with the adverse impact on residents, businesses and shoppers.
  • Great Coates has a railway station on a main line.
  • There would be a new business opportunity for bus operators, especially with a little encouragement from NELC, GTFC and the Police.

    2.3 Brownfield/Greenfield site issues. There would be no loss of significant open country, the area is not of outstanding natural beauty, it isn't a unique wildlife habitat. Arable farmland is not in short supply in this area.

    BP is in a residential area. New (affordable) housing is in great demand. The BP site could be used for housing. Alternatively this new housing would have to go to the outskirts of town. This would have a worse environmental and social impact than the new stadium. More people out of town would mean a greater need for car journeys to work, school and shops every day.

    3.0 The Value of a successful football club (and new ground)

    On a positive note we could point out:

  • A successful club will boost confidence and have the economic spin-off of higher productivity

  • The boost to local pride from the new stadium

  • The beneficial impact on marketing the area to potential investors and employers. It will help get away from the unskilled, blue-collar image of the town.

  • The new stadium will act as a better "gateway to the town (than the Humber factories)

  • The jobs created during construction and afterwards

  • The potential spin-offs of the conference and associated facilities (more business for the town)

  • ("No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby but"), unlike the Thames Valley, NE Lincs is an underdeveloped and un-prosperous part of the country and needs this investment.

    What Can You Do?

    We suggest you write letters in your own words covering the above (and any extra relevant points and facts you are aware of). The letters should only cover the issues that the Inquiry will consider.

    Address the letters to: Chris Holliday, Principal Planning Officer, NELC

    But send them to 'Grimsby Town New Stadium Campaign, 19D Park Drive, Huddersfield, HD1 4EB by 30 November (I know its Yorkshire but bear with us!). They will be consolidated and then passed to NELC, hopefully with media attention for maximum impact.

    Rationale: We are aiming to create a positive impression of a coordinated campaign, using well-reasoned arguments in favour of the stadium (no "anti" letters will be forwarded). This will show:

    There is a demand for the new stadium

  • We are committed to the cause
  • We are organised and are to be taken seriously
  • We are sensible members of the community with a valuable contribution to make.

    Up the Mariners!

    Chris Parrott, Mike Worden and Emma Gillingham

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