Major planning hurdle cleared for Harrogate Town's stadium overhaul

Councillors gave the nod to 'Town's plans for the Wetherby Road ground
Councillors gave the nod to 'Town's plans for the Wetherby Road ground

A major planning hurdle has been cleared by Harrogate Town AFC after Harrogate Borough Council’s planning committee has supported plans for a £1 million investment at the Wetherby Road ground.

The application for the CNG Stadium had previously been deferred in February because of objections from nearby residents.

The councillors agreed at their meeting on Tuesday the terms and conditions that the club will have to meet before formal approval is given by the chief planner.

Demolition work will be carried out at the ground, removing the existing bar, office, changing rooms and corporate hospitality stand while construction of new facilities including a new clubhouse and extensions will take place.

This will almost double capacity to around 5,000 people, a requirement for the club to be able to join the Football League.

Managing Director of the Club, Garry Plant, said: “The football club has been at the heart of the Harrogate community for nearly 100 years. We are delighted that the planning committee supported this sensitively designed scheme which will help us achieve our ambitions. The club is committed to delivering a high quality facility that the local community can be proud of.

He added: “We have laid the foundations for the next 100 years at the club, and at the same time this is not just about us, it is about the town and community. Pannal Sport, Beckwithshaw, Nidderdale United, every junior Club is benefiting from this.”

Town’s 3G pitch was installed in 2016 without planning permission and this was also approved as part of the application this week.

Among the planning conditions is restricting the use of the pitch from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and until 7pm Saturday and 6pm Sunday. This would not be applied in the case of scheduled league, cup or pre-season friendlies for Harrogate Town regulated youth, ladies or first teams.

A payment of £10,000 will have to be made by the club, to cover the costs of a traffic regulation order review, before the plans are passed to the chief planner.

Objections were raised by residents over issues including parking, traffic and the hours that the pitch was in use. On Tuesday Mike Edward, who has lived on St Nicholas Road since 1982, spoke against the plans citing ‘a detrimental impact on neighbouring residents.’

He said: “The National Planning Policy Framework says any decision made by this this committee should bear in mind that it promotes health and well being, this means for both the club and its neighbours. This plan does not offer this kind of opportunity for its neighbours.”

After the meeting and hearing the decision Mr Edward said: “This has ruined our lives and we will have to put up with it now.

We will continue to look at what could still be done, we could continue to look at objecting to the planning officers comments, not recognising the adverse effect to residents.”

Following further consultation with residents the club will now also have to install a high net across the eastern boundary of the site. behind the 1919 bar. This was in order to prevent stray footballs coming into neighbouring properties.