BUILDING work on a new community stadium and business park will begin next year.
Plans for the £19m stadium and 100-acre business park on Newmarket Lane, near Stanley, were given the final approval by secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles yesterday.
It will provide a new home for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats by the start of 2015, helping the club to maintain its Super League status.
In June Mr Pickles said he was “minded” to approve Yorkcourt Properties’ plans, but only if certain planning conditions were met.
Those have now been met and Yorkcourt Properties’ managing director Colin Mackie said the project will take priority.
Wildcats chief executive James Elston said: “This is great news and another huge step towards better sporting facilities for the district.
“There has been a lot going on behind the scenes since the planning permission was provisionally passed in June and with this being rubber-stamped we’re now well placed to take that on further and create a really secure future for this club.
“This news, coupled with record membership sales of over 4,000 and going into 2013 on the back of a play-off appearance, means that we’re at a really exciting point in the club’s history and everyone associated with the club can look forward with real optimism.”
The site will also include warehouses, a multi-use games area, restaurant and 120-bed hotel and is expected to create 2,000 jobs and bring in an extra £130m to the city’s economy.
Mr Mackie said: “It has been a hard fight and I am delighted.
“The next step is to look at the conditions and meet with the club, local authority and trust and start the development.
“It will bring employment and inward investment which is much needed. It is unfortunate that it has taken so long.
“This project will take priority and we are 100 per cent committed to it.”
Plans were originally approved by Wakefield Council, but called in by the government as it was on allocated green belt land.
A planning inspector held a public inquiry last December and listened to objections from Leeds City Council and Methley residents.
The stadium will be leased to Wakefield and District Community Trust, led by Sir Rodney Walker, and the Wildcats will be the main tenant. The council will give the trust £2m towards building costs, but developers will need to build some warehouses and business units to fund the project.
Council leader Peter Box said: “This is excellent news for the regeneration of the district and the result of many years of hard work and campaigning.”
Rugby league fans have campaigned for eight years to get a new stadium built.
Phil Townsend of Stadium Wakefield Action Group (SWAG) said: “The ground at Belle Vue, which most current supporters love dearly, is not fit for the 21st century.
“A new facility is essential, not only to provide the home comforts that are now expected when people visit modern stadia, but to provide a business model so the club can thrive.”
Mr Pickles’ decision may be challenged at the High Court within six weeks.