Supporters of a plan that would see a 'Stadium for Cornwall' built near Truro say that if a supermarket planning decision goes ahead it could "end the dream" of a 10,000-seat stadium being built.
The stadium project has taken a "giant leap forward", according to developers, after the announcement that Henry Boot Developments PLC have committed to a joint venture agreement with Inox Group to deliver the stadium for Cornwall project.
However although planning permission for the stadium is already in place, Stadium4Cornwall say that planning permission for the enabling supermarket application is unlikely to be straightforward, as three competing supermarket applications are already under consideration by Cornwall Council in Truro.
The Asda application, which is part of the Willow Green Farm development, has been recommended for approval by officers ahead of the June 26 strategic planning committee meeting.
With the group saying that Cornwall Council’s retail consultants, GVA Grimley, have now suggested only one more supermarket can be accommodated in Truro, should Asda, or any other rival application be granted consent, that would "bring an end to the chances of a supermarket funding the stadium, and end the dream of a 10,000-seat stadium being built in Cornwall".
The Chairman of the Stadium 4 Cornwall Group, Peter Marks, said he was disappointed that Cornwall Council would not be hearing all supermarket proposals together: “I cannot believe we are faced with a situation that subject to planning permission being granted, a private funding solution to build the stadium has been found, and yet Cornwall may now miss this unprecedented opportunity by a matter of weeks.
"Why the council has called for this extraordinary unscheduled planning meeting is beyond our group, especially knowing that the stadium enabling application is imminent. We have been working tirelessly alongside Inox for many years now and there remains massive county wide support for, what some are now referring to, a Cornish National Stadium. We can only hope that sound planning reasons result in members deciding to defer a decision until a later date, so that the Inox proposal can be taken into consideration.”
Rob Saltmarsh, MD of the Inox Group, said: "We have experienced a true roller coaster ride with this project and these latest developments clearly demonstrate that our funding proposal, which is now supported by a major PLC commercial developer, is entirely deliverable and will result in a privately funded stadium for Cornwall being delivered. This is a giant leap forward for the stadium to now become reality.
“We have fully respected the decision of the current administration not to commit any public funds to the project and have therefore continued to seek a private sector funding solution. Our enabling development planning application, which will be a mixed use retail and residential scheme, will be submitted in September 2014 and the supermarket is a vital component in helping to deliver the stadium.
"We remain committed to the concept of ensuring all of the net proceeds from the sale of the enabling application will be recycled into the stadium delivery. This will amount to a multi-million pound private sector investment, which if supported, will result in the first community stadium in the UK to be delivered solely by the private sector.
“Inox and their stadium partners remain hugely excited about the prospect of this project now becoming reality. It will without doubt allow thousands of people across the Westcountry to have access to a facility that will showcase Cornish talent at its very best. It is no longer acceptable that Cornwall remains without such a facility.
“The fate of this project now hangs in the balance and we will await the outcome of the strategic planning committee’s decision on June 26.”
Under the terms of the stadium deal with Inox, Henry Boot Developments would secure a long lease to a national retailer and then sell the retail development on, with the lion’s share of the proceeds going into the construction of the new Stadium. Inox would also channel the net proceeds of the proposed residential development into the Stadium project.
Julian Painter, Henry Boot’s Director, said: "HBD are delighted to be involved with Inox Group on this very exciting and ground breaking project for Cornwall. HBD are at the forefront of commercial development in the UK and we are currently working on a £3m retail scheme in Bodmin. Alongside Inox, we will be submitting a retail-led, mixed use planning application to Cornwall Council in September 2014 and we are confident that the proposal will enable and deliver a privately funded stadium for Cornwall at Langarth Farm.
“Truro remains a desirable location for retailers and should planning permission be granted, we have no doubt that a supermarket operator will be found. HBD are aware that a privately funded stadium continues to have huge support from the general public and from many Councillors within Cornwall Council, and we firmly believe that these latest plans offer a very real opportunity for the stadium to become reality. All being well, construction of the stadium could begin during early 2016."
Truro Chamber of Commerce Chairman Giles Horne, in his online comments about the three competing supermarket schemes going to the council’s committee on 26th June, says: “The Chamber would not support any proposal that does not financially support the Stadium for Cornwall. The stadium would do much to enhance business in the Truro area.”
Mr Saltmarsh said that Inox had been in discussions with Morrisons PLC over the past few months. and although talks with the supermarket operator had been positive, Morrisons would not enter into commercial contracts with any one developer in Truro, prior to planning permission being granted.
Robin Langford, development surveyor for Morrisons PLC, commented "I have made it clear to all potential supermarket developers in Truro that Morrisons will not commit to any single party until planning permission is granted and contract terms have been finalised.
“Truro remains a target location for Morrisons with capacity for one more supermarket. We have met with Inox to ensure that the scheme and the terms they propose could satisfy our requirements and await the outcome of the planning process.
“We are disappointed to note that Officers are now recommending the Asda/LxB proposal for approval because there will then be no capacity remaining and Morrisons requirement for Truro will end.”