PLANS for a massive redevelopment of Wrexham FC’s Racecourse Ground to clear the club’s debts have been given the go-ahead.
Planning chief Lawrence Isted has recommended phase one of the ‘Wrexham Village’ project, which will see 521 student bedrooms built in two blocks, be approved.
At a planning committee meeting in Wrexham on Monday, councillors voted by a majority to give the first phase of the development the green light.
They also voted to give outline permission for further student apartments and the development of the East Stand/ multi-function arena.
The overall scheme, split into three phases, would see the building of more than 800 flats to accommodate students from Glyndwr University as well as a redevelopment of the kop stand.
Wrexham FC manager Dean Saunders attended the meeting to show his support for the scheme.
Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) had lodged a formal objection against the proposals and spoke at the meeting.
Trust chiefs claimed binding agreements they thought would be linked to the plans, to pay off the clubs debts and safeguard the stadium’s future, were missing. They wanted councillors to reject the plans and ‘request a comprehensive plan which links the development of the student accommodation to the provision of a new stand’.
On Monday evening WST representative Spencer Harris said: “The unilateral undertaking as it relates to the new kop is worthless. The stadium’s future rests on assurances given by developers.”
This was disputed by lawyers acting for the club.
Concerns were raised by councillors over parking, traffic, the impact on local residents and whether the new stand would receive enough grant aid funding to be built.
There were also objections t from local councillors and residents who feared it could impact property values and cause traffic and parking problems.
Concerns were also raised there would not be enough room left for a new kop stand big enough for the Racecourse to hold internationals.
Mr Isted said calculations showed a need for a stand of 4,650 seats.
In his report to the committee, he said he believed there was enough room to realise ambitions for a stadium big enough to host internationals.
The club was also exploring other parts of the stadium – the corners and within the Eric Roberts and Sainsbury’s stand – for more seats.
After the decision, club director Paul Retout said: “We believe this development is the best way of getting the club out of debt and moving forward both off and on the pitch.
“We are disappointed at the reaction from the WST, trying to derail the plans throughout, including at the planning meeting.”