Stadium row developers accused of 'utter contempt' as warehouse plans rejected
Controversial plans to build a warehouse on land earmarked for a new community stadium for Wakefield have been thrown out.
Planning permission for a new ground, to be used by Wakefield Trinity, along with a hotel complex and games arena on Newmarket Lane was granted by the government in 2012.
Seven years on, fans are still waiting for the 12,000 seater stadium's first bricks and mortar to be laid.
Developers Yorkcourt, who have avoided triggering certain conditions that would legally compel them to build the ground, applied for consent to create a new warehouse on the land last year.
The site would have been used by beer and wine makers HB Clark and created up to 130 jobs, but the application made no reference to the stadium, to the fury of supporters.
Fans lined the public gallery at the Town's Hall council chamber on Thursday and applauded as the developers were strongly criticised by councillors, who then rejected the warehouse plans.
Ian Bramley, one of 482 people to object, told the meeting it was "unbelievable" no legally-binding agreement was in place to force the stadium to be developed now.
He accused the developers of "sticking two fingers up" at Wakefield Council, Her Majesty's Planning Inspectorate and the people of the district.
Fellow speaker Phil Townsend said Yorkcourt had shown "utter contempt" for residents, while Wakefield MP Mary Creagh called the stadium saga, "The biggest game of cat and mouse in the council's history."
Referencing the application directly, she added: "When I get letters from constituents, they're not asking about minimum wage jobs in a warehouse with forklift trucks."
Andrew Piatt, who spoke on behalf of Yorkcourt, said the warehouse would allow for the "future prosperity" of HB Clark and would bring disused former colliery land back into use.
Asked about the stadium issue, he said: "I am aware of it, but this is a stand alone application.
"My client is abiding by the rules."
The meeting was told that Wakefield Council had asked Yorkcourt to make a "contribution" towards the new stadium alongside the warehouse plans. But this request was dismissed by the company as "not legitimate".
Legal advice was taken by the authority, which supported Yorkcourt's view. As a result, councillors were told they could not use the stadium row to affect their judgement of the warehouse plans.
But several members of the committee argued that the company's failure to build the ground damaged its credibility.
Councillor Kevin Swift said: "This is a complete mess.
"It (the stadium) can't just be put to one side here. If you do, we've got to have a very serious think about what planning permission we put on this site in the future.
"This site was promoted by the council 10 years ago as stadium, stadium, stadium.
"This development can't be looked at without it."
Coun Celia Loughran said: "I feel very let down that we don't have a stadium.
"It's very important people have confidence in the planning process, and I'm very upset and concerned that no progress has been made."
Coun David Jones added that a lack of correspondence between the developers and residents showed "they didn't care about the people of Wakefield".
Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of refusing the application.
The loss of amenity to local residents and potential for night-time disturbance were listed among the reasons for rejection.
It is not yet known whether or not Yorkcourt will appeal against the decision.