‘The Reds’ hope for venue revamp green light


Nottingham Forest update June 2021 Image: Benoy

The English Championship football club Nottingham Forest (UK) have recently submitted a revised planning application for the redevelopment of its residence – the City Ground.

The ‘Nottingham Post’ stated that the revised application has been sent to the Rushcliffe Borough Council and a decision on the project is expected in the next few months.

Nottingham Forest Football Club, often referred to as Nottingham Forest or just Forest, is an association football club based in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England (UK). Founded in 1865, Forest has played home matches at the City Ground since 1898.

The City Ground is a football stadium in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England, on the banks of the River Trent. It has been home to Nottingham Forest Football Club since 1898, and has 30,445 seats.

A Nottingham Forest spokesperson said, “The club is pleased to confirm that further planning documents have now been submitted to the Rushcliffe Borough Council. We will continue to work with our specialist advisers and in partnership with the local councils to move this important application through the planning process. We hope to be able to update supporters on the outcome of the application in late summer.”

Work had been due to get underway on the stadium last summer, starting with knocking down and rebuilding the Peter Taylor Stand but it was delayed as COVID-19 let hell loose on the world and clobbered the United Kingdom.

The latest submission is for a hybrid planning application comprising full planning permission for the redevelopment of the Peter Taylor Stand (including pulling down the existing buildings/structures), new public realm, replacement club shop, car parking and associated works, and outline planning permission for up to 170 residential units including flexible uses at ground floor (approval for access, layout and scale).

The initial scheme mooted the idea for the creation of a new three-tier stand which can hold 10,000 spectators.

The new Peter Taylor Stand would see the introduction of world-class facilities including a museum, a new club shop, a range of hospitality lounge options and restaurants, and executive boxes.

In addition to this, there will be new spacious concourses for general-admission supporters as well as improved facilities for supporters with disabilities and a substantial increase in wheelchair spaces.

The new, modern, spiffy structure will see The City Ground’s capacity become the highest in the East Midlands, reaching 38,000 after completion.

‘Close to fruition’

In April this year, the Nottingham Forest Football Club Chairman Nicholas Randall QC, stated that the planning process for City Ground redevelopment is “close to fruition”. ‘The Reds’ first announced their intention to transform their home facility into a venue class apart as part of a multimillion pound project in 2019.

‘The Reds’ owner Evangelos Marinakis is said to still be committed to the scheme, with more than £2m having already been expended on costs directly related to the redevelopment plan.

The ‘Nottingham Post’ quoted Randall as stating, “It is a huge project for us. We think it is absolutely vital for the future of the club that we can upgrade the stadium, and the Peter Taylor Stand, in particular. We’ve made considerable progress. I appreciate some people are frustrated, but the reality is we have actually made good progress on it.”

Added Randall, “We would hope to have a decision this summer. Obviously we want the permission to proceed, but we knew when we made the decision that we wanted to develop the Peter Taylor Stand and stay on this current site – rather than move to another site – that there would be challenges which come with that. We’ve had to go through all the relevant stages of consultation.”

He further added, “We’ve got a brilliant relationship with all of the relevant authorities, including Rushcliffe (Borough Council), and that has helped. But I hope the fans realize, we’re not building an extension on a house here, it’s a major infrastructure project. The challenges come because this is a part-residential area and it is also an iconic site.”

Work was delayed last summer as planning approval had not been granted coupled with the coronavirus menace, and it is understood there were planning issues with the proposed residential development next to the venue.

Randall further informed, “The proposed residential development is all part of the scheme. This is the way these sorts of projects are carried out. It’s entirely standard. We believe it adds to the scheme. It will assist in terms of providing dwellings in the Rushcliffe area, which is a good thing as well. It actually has a social benefit. And it assists with the costing. The owner will still be putting in substantial sums, but having a successful residential project obviously assists, and it will enable us to have better economics all round. It is an integral part of the scheme.”

Randall pointed out, “One of the reasons for the delay is we have been carefully recrafting that part of the design to meet the concerns which were expressed about the original plans. We think it is a positive part, it will assist the club and we believe it is all part of a very compelling case we can put together in advance for planning.”

He added, “We’re talking about how we can improve the infrastructure locally, to enable the additional flow that is necessary to get the additional fans in, to operate in a way which is fair for us and fair to the community. We’re very close to negotiating that and having that secured. Because of the nature of the challenges we face, it’s all part and parcel of that particular process. We’ve made good progress on it, we’re confident, and we’re coming to, what we hope, are the finetuning stages in the process now.”

A timeline for the project has not been set, but the club believe positive strides are being made as they seek approval.

Randall maintained, “Where we want to get to with the application is to get to a place where we’ve made all the relevant compromises that it’s fair for us to make, that we can have a project which everybody can support, in the community and politically. We have an excellent relationship with all of the authorities and there is a clear understanding of how important this project is for the local area – in terms of economic benefits, in terms of jobs, in terms of the whole profile for the City and the local area. This is a part of the sporting quarter of Nottingham. It is a truly amazing feature of this part of the world and something that desperately needs to be preserved.”

He further put in, “It would be extremely disappointing if we can’t get this through, because the proximity of the City Ground and Trent Bridge – two of the most iconic stadiums in the world of sport – they need to be here and they need to flourish together. It’s not just symbolic, it’s not just that we want to have the better facilities, but to have a Premier League team here, it’s got to have the infrastructure to sustain it.”

Randall concluded by stating, “This is a crucial project, not just for the club, but for the City and the county. There are challenges that do not come with that if you are doing a new build in another area. It’s been a complex process but we are close to fruition with the planning process. It is one of the most iconic views in football when you come over Trent Bridge and see the ground. It was an article of faith that the owner wanted to stay and build our future here as it is clearly the fans’ first choice.”

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