Blame game begins as plan to build new Wakefield Wildcats stadium rumbles on

Artist's impression of Wildcats' new community stadium.
Artist's impression of Wildcats' new community stadium.

A row has erupted between Wakefield Council and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats over who is responsible for the failure to build a new community stadium.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting at the club on Wednesday to discuss why the Wildcats’ move to a new facility on land off Newmarket Lane in Stanley has stalled.

Wakefield and District Community Trust claimed​ at the meeting that​ the council had not delivered on​ a ‘promise’ to pay £2m to fund the new stadium.

But the council​, which did not have a representative at the meeting,​ vehemently denied the claim and said the £2m provision was not part of the planning agreement, which was between the Wildcats and the developer York Court Properties.

York Court is building a 100-acre business park on Newmarket Lane.

Jonathan Stone, of the Wakefield and District Community Trust, said: “A massive injustice has been done.

“We are trying really hard to present options to the​ council but it is like banging our heads against a brick wall.

“A move to Newmarket is what we were promised. We have got to fight for it or we will get nothing.”

Wildcats fans submitted a 15,000-strong petition in support of the development in 2012 after the government ruled that a stadium could be built as part of the plans.

At the time, secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, approved the plans but said certain planning conditions must be met.

This included a ​legal agreement (a ​section 106​) in relation to the construction of the stadium and traffic.

​York Court was expected to lease the 12,000-capacity community stadium to the trust, with Wildcats as the anchor tenant.

Wildcats’ chairman Michael Carter said: “The council promised a fit for purpose community stadium and it has not been delivered.”

Neil Rodgers, Wakefield Council’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “When planning permission for a community stadium at Newmarket was granted, the Section 106 Unilateral Undertaking, which is a legal pledge signed by the developer, was allowed by the secretary of atate.

“The council did not have any involvement in the drafting of this legal pledge and did not sign it, and the club and trust are fully aware of this.”

Andy Wallhead, Wakefield Council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, added: “Regarding the reference to £2m, both Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Castleford Tigers were offered this support in 2009–2010 subject to conditions.

“But these conditions were never met and this offer was subsequently withdrawn.”