PLANS for a massive redevelopment of Wrexham FCs Racecourse Ground to clear the club’s debts were given the go-ahead last night.
Planning chief Lawrence Isted had 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 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/multifunction arena.
The overall scheme, split into three separate phases, would see the building of more than 800 flats to accommodate students from nearby Glyndr University as well as a redevelopment of the Kop stand.
Wrexham manager Dean Saunders attended last night’s meeting to show his support for the scheme.
Wrexham Supporters Trust had lodged a formal objection against the proposals and spoke at last night’s 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”.
Last night 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, impact on local residents and whether the new stand would get enough grant aid funding to be built.
There were also objections to the development from local councillors and residents who feared it could affect property values and cause traffic and parking problems.
Worries were also expressed there would not be enough room left for a new Kop stand big enough for the Racecourse to hold internationals.
Mr Isted said the issue had already been considered and 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.
In the report Mr Isted said cash generated from the project would help the club clear its debts and help redevelop the ground.
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.”
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