Chester FC chief executive Mark Maguire says the club are exploring ways to maximise the use of the car park at the Swansway Chester Stadium but has stressed that discussions are in their infancy.
The Chronicle revealed over the weekend that bus operators Stagecoach had submitted plans to Flintshire County Council to relocate from their current base on Liverpool Road to a site adjacent to Chester’s stadium.
Stagecoach has a conditional agreement to sell its Liverpool Road depot with Watkin Jones lined up to build a 350-bed student housing scheme if planning consent is granted.
The bus company previously revealed negotiations were ongoing to secure an alternative depot site with a planning application now lodged targeting an area of the car park where they would hope to erect a bus maintenance workshop, bus chassis wash and bus wash plus associated parking and infrastructure.
But the club have move to allay fears of supporters over the plans and stress that the proposals are at a very early stage and discussions are being pursued ‘until such time as a a credible proposal is in place’.
Chester CEO Maguire confirmed that the club’s board have not met to consider that matter owing to the a number of conditions not being met as yet, but he did stress that there is a need for the football club to maximise the usage of the stadium and its surrounding in order to generate new revenue streams and grow the football club.
Said Maguire: “As a club, and indeed in my role in particular, it is a duty to explore ways of maximising the use of the stadium and its surrounds.
“A facility used for a limited number of days each year is not maximising the opportunity that we have and therefore it is natural that we will examine various opportunities as they arise.
“Over the past twelve months we have had a number of approaches and my job in these circumstances is to pursue discussions until such time as a credible proposal is in place that I can put to the board in order for them make a decision - measuring all of the pros and cons.
“In this particular case we are at an early stage, and three things need to happen before I can ask the board to consider the matter: 1) An attractive commercial proposal is received which would include income, car park improvements and satisfaction that lost spaces could be compensated for. 2) Our landlords are satisfied with the proposal. 3) That any planning requirements are satisfied.
“At this early stage only brief discussions have taken place but none of the above criteria have been satisfied and therefore it is not yet a matter which has been debated by the board.
“If and when that time arrives I am sure that there will be full consideration given to any potential impact on match days and the stadium surrounds, but I must stress that it is important that we continue to examine ways of generating new income streams for the club as we seek to grow the platform for the clubs future success.
“Finally, I must express my thanks to our colleagues at Cheshire West and Chester Council who have been nothing other than informative and co-operative in providing us with the necessary information to explore various opportunities as they have arisen.”
The club agreed new terms on a 50-year lease on the stadium with Cheshire West & Chester Council back in June 2014 after the Council had initially granted the football club an initial five-year lease following its reformation from the ashes of Chester City FC in 2010.
The most recent lease included the car park, allowing the club to bring in additional revenue, something which has been achieved in recent months with weekly car boot sales and even the circus utilising the space.
A document accompanying the application states: “The proposed development site is in Chester , covered by both Cheshire West and Chester Council and Flintshire County Council.
“The site lies within the settlement limits of Chester as defined by the current Cheshire West and Chester Local Plan map and Flintshire Unitary Development Plan.”
It adds: “The site is currently a vacant brownfield site being a disused area of car parking adjacent to Chester City Football Club’s Deva Stadium.”
The building frame and roof would be finished in profiled aluminium cladding. In terms of height, the unit is double height which is said to reflect other commercial buildings within the vicinity of the site.