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Councillors reject plans for new Woking Football Club stadium

4 minute read
Councillors reject plans for new Woking Football Club stadium

Published by Lettie Buxton at 1:43pm 27th June 2020.

Plans to build a new stadium at Woking Football Club have been overwhelmingly rejected by Woking Borough Council's Planning Committee.

During the meeting on Tuesday night (23 June), eight councillors voted in favour of refusing the application, while one abstained.

The application put forward plans for a new stadium in Westfield, as well as retail, hospitality and community spaces, a medical centre, parking and 1,048 houses within five buildings of between three and 11 storeys.

All three Hoe Valley ward councillors spoke against the development during the virtual meeting, with Cllr Deborah Hughes commenting the proposal has "caused more resident concern and depth of feeling than any other issue".

She said the "benefits do not outway the adverse impact", adding "Woking deserves better".

Meanwhile Cllr Will Forster said that if the plans were approved, it would "set awful precedent that such development of intensity would be acceptable in my ward of Hoe Valley, but also across other village settings in Woking borough".

Fellow ward councillor, Cllr Louise Morales added she agreed "Woking Football Club deserves to have a stadium they can be proud of, but we don't need to have this stadium plan".

While she said there are "many, many things in this plan that are good", she continued there are "equally so many breaches of policy".

But, speaking in support of the proposal, Ian Nicholson, who has lived in the area for 52 years and has been the club chaplain for 12 years, said the "status quo is no longer an option as we face the crises of our day", adding the plan targets three of these crisis areas – housing, health and environment.

He continued it is a brown field development, which "eases growing pressures on green belt land".

Following Tuesday night's decision, chairman of Woking Football Club, Rosemary Johnson told Eagle Radio she was "disappointed with the news", adding she recognises the "impact  that the decision has on the club and planning its ways forward":

"It was a shame that the three ward councillors - all of whom spoke - had never come and met with the board of the club, yet felt that they could pronounce on the club and what it needed.

"However the committee has the right to make the decision it made.

"The difference it would have made to the club was a new stadium fit for purpose and an income stream that could have made the club financially secure with a non-match day income - as councillors were aware I had wanted not to have to approach the council for their financial support.

"I was pleased, however, to hear that all speakers supported the club.

"We would have been able to enhance our award-winning community programme - something which is integral to the club.

"The application would have provided jobs and enhanced the economy of the town - not just through the facilities at the new stadium, but through the housing, retail units and medical centre."

She continued they will now have to look at funding streams and "many issues about the old structures that make up the bulk of the club".

But, she said they will do "all we can to take the club forward and consider other options".

Ms Johnson added that "Woking is a community club and we will work with that community to find a way forwards".