STEPHEN Vaughan faces a major hurdle in his plans to take over Tranmere Rovers and rehouse the club in a purpose built stadium on the Mersey waterfront.
Vaughan Promotions, the company owned by the Chester City chairman, have identified a site for Tranmere's proposed new home on land that was formerly part of the Cammell Laird shipyard.
But Wirral Council insist that priority use of the site has been earmarked for the revival of the shipbuilding and repair industry in Birkenhead.
Wirral Council's director of planning, Jim Wilkie, said last night: "The site is allocated for employment use in the Wirral Development Plan and any proposals would have to be considered in the context of that designation.
"It has always been the view of the council that that the priority use of the Cammell Laird site should remain shipbuilding, ship repair or associated marine engineering."
Laird's, however, is not the only Wirral site identified by Vaughan Promotions for potential future use by Tranmere.
Vaughan Promotions spokesman David Burford said last week that the company had agreed a deal in principle for a second Wirral site, which would be used to house a new youth academy for Tranmere.
Vaughan Promotions remain the only party to put a firm offer on the table for Tranmere since owner Peter Johnson instigated the search for new investors and/or owners in August.
They propose to turn over Tranmere's Prenton Park home and the nearby Ingleborough Road training ground to developers.
Revenue generated from the sale would then be used to bankroll the club's future as well as repaying the £5million plus Johnson claims he is owed by Tranmere, and turning a profit for Vaughan Promotions.
A potential bid by the partnership of the Tran-mere and Wirral Football Supporters Trust and Liverpool-based youth charity Weston Spirit is dependent upon a feasibility study into whether their plans to turn Tranmere into a community-based club at Prenton Park are financially viable.
Rovers chairman Lorraine Rogers, who is handling takeover negotiations on behalf of Johnson, says the club may call a halt to the bidding process within six weeks and could decide to head into next season with the ownership unchanged.
However, all potential investors were warned last night that any takeover scheme involving the sale of Prenton Park and Ingleborough Road for development would meet determined and well organised opposition from local residents.
Gerry Williams, one of two Labour councillors for the Egerton ward, which covers the areas surrounding Prenton Park says residents are particularly worried about the prospect of Prenton Park becoming a commercial park.
Such a development could spell disaster for established local businesses according to Coun Williams and create a round-the-clock disturbance and traffic problems in the area.
He added that residents living around the Ingleborough Road training ground were determined to ensure that a deed of covenant protecting the land for recreational use would be honoured.
Coun Williams said: "Local people would be up in arms if Prenton Park was to be knocked down and replaced by some kind of commercial park.
"Residents groups in the area are strong and well organised. They have existed side by side with the football club for a long time.
"Obviously most people in the area want to see Tranmere succeed as a football club. Many residents are Tranmere supporters.
"All of those I have spoken to - and there are many - want the supporters' trust to be successful in their bid and keep the club at Prenton Park. That is the hope I share with them."