PLANS have been unveiled to build up to 200 homes on the site of Weymouth Football Club.
The ambitious plans would see the stadium relocated to land near Lodmoor tip. Wessex Delivery LLP (WDP), which owns the land surrounding the stadium, is currently in talks with Weymouth Football Club and other stakeholders about the possibility of moving the club to Lodmoor.
The company said that this would be 'enabled through redevelopment of the existing Wessex grounds.'
The plans are to create a new community football facility for Weymouth Football Club as well as redevelop the old stadium site into a mixed use development, which would include 150-200 homes, the shop and village green.
The site is currently designated for leisure use under West Dorset planning guidelines but the owners have submitted it for consideration for residential development under the Alternative Submitted Sites Consultation as part of the new Draft Local Plan.
Duncan Johnston from Wessex Delivery LLP said: “In light of the 2012 Olympic Games, it is hoped that a sustainable community stadium will provide a sports legacy for Weymouth.
“Aside from providing a new sports facility, the two schemes will create new job opportunities, both during construction and following completion, and provide support to local businesses.”
The Board of Weymouth Football club issued a statement stating they had recently held discussions with WDP about the possibility of moving but felt 'under no compulsion' to move and said all plans would be looked at to see if they offered an 'improvement on the current stadium', in terms of 'community facilities, income producing potential, running costs, and spectator accommodation.'
The club's board added: “Any proposals made, to meet with the approval of the board, must also provide adequate safeguards on land ownership of the replacement stadium, as the current stadium is unencumbered freehold.”
Although the board said they had seen preliminary plans of the new stadium with 'some attractive features' in an 'adequate' location, but that there was a 'considerable way' to go before the design would be one the board would recommend.
It added: “Any proposals made, to meet with the approval of the board, must also provide adequate safeguards on land ownership of the replacement stadium, as the current stadium is unencumbered freehold.”
Members of the public are being invited to attend two consultation events to hear plans for the two sites. The first will focus on the proposed new stadium scheme and will take place at The Rembrandt Hotel on Dorchester Road, between 4.30pm - 7pm on Monday, December 3.
The second will focus on the existing Wessex Stadium site and will take place on Wednesday December 5, at St Aldhelm's Church Centre, Spa Road, between 4.30pm - 7pm.
People will be able to submit their comments on the plans until Sunday December 9, at 11pm. Then all the feedback will be collated and any amendments made before the formal planning application is submitted. firstname.lastname@example.org PANEL- Background WESSEX Delivery Partnership acquired the land surrounding the Bob Lucas Stadium from Wessex Park Limited in October 2008 for £500,000.
The company, which is linked to Morgan Sindall Investments, also possesses an option agreement with Weymouth FC on the current stadium and have been searching for possible sites to relocate the ground for the past four years - a move the Terras' board has backed strongly in recent times.
WDP has an option to acquire the Bob Lucas Stadium in exchange for providing a new stadium within five miles of the current ground; to be at a build cost of £7 million plus grants; and to be built to Football League standard.
WDP can exercise that option at any time up to 15 years from the date of the agreement in 2008.
Former club chief George Rolls, backed by current chairman Nigel Biddlecombe, then club secretary, and vice-chairman Mark Coleman, told supporters at a fans' forum back on October 1 of last year that the Terras 'would do everything they could to facilitate' such a move 'because that is what is best for the club.'
Rolls, Biddlecombe and Coleman also claimed at the meeting that a 4,000-seater stadium and any other profits made from the option agreement would help the club sustain a level of football it could afford.
However, Rolls did also say the option agreement would not be fully activated in its current form. He said: “There is an option agreement but realistically that is not going to happen.
“Every developer puts in the small print that everything has got to be financially viable and in this current climate we are not going to get £7million.”
Many Weymouth FC supporters are unhappy about the way Morgan Sindall and WDP acquired the land, which took place under the regime of controversial ex-Terras' chairman Malcolm Curtis.
The two companies also disappointed speedway fans after repossessing the site of the Weymouth Wildcats' former home in November 2010 following the club's failure to pay the rent.
Local businessman Harold Doonan tried to save the Wildcats in the months that followed but his offer of a new rental agreement was turned down by WDP who instead decided to leave the land unoccupied.