Some may have picked up via the official Club twitter account that Hadley Property Group are holding two public consultation events to update on their proposals to build houses on our current ground and provide a new ground and facilities on adjacent land. They will take place in the Club’s bar at Champion Hill on:
- Thursday 25th February, 4 – 8pm; and
- Saturday 27th February, 11am-2pm (i.e. before the home game versus East Thurrock).
The consultation events, the first since 2014, are welcomed by the Trust. In an update on ground development in December 2015, Hadley Property Group signalled a potential change in the design and structure of the overall scheme. We look forward to seeing their new proposals, including how they have taken on board the feedback that the Trust has given to date.
We would strongly encourage Trust members to attend and start to form a view for themselves. We will also be emailing members following the event asking for their thoughts to help inform our own approach ahead of any formal poll on whether Trust members think we should support any planning application.
In looking at the proposals, members will naturally be considering whether any new facility would be fit for purpose on match days and meet the long terms needs of a growing football club.
However, a football club is much more than the bricks and mortar of the stadium. Before Hadley Property Group became involved, the club’s off the field difficulties could be put down less to the running costs of the existing stadium and more to a toxic combination of the Club falling into the hands of people who have perhaps not acted in its best interest, with insufficient transparency over how the Club has been run, and a series of short term leases that have offered little security of tenure and left us vulnerable.
We strongly believe that any proposals must address these points by securing a long term lease for the new facility (well beyond the 25 years given for the existing stadium), clarity over how a new facility will be managed on a day to day basis and who else can use it, and ensure fan ownership of the club using the Community Benefit Society model that is used by many other successful and transparent supporter owned football clubs throughout the country. It is welcome that Hadley Property Group have signalled a wish to also work towards these aims and we would encourage Trust members to discuss this further at the consultation events.