Wakefield Trinity get planning permission to redevelop Belle Vue
Wakefield Trinity have been given planning permission to redevelop their Belle Vue ground, in a move that should secure the club's Super League status and boost its long-term prospects.
Local councillors approved a scheme that will see the ground's East Stand demolished and replaced, with the capacity boosted from 7,258 to 8,866 spectators.
The car park will be resurfaced and a new 4G pitch laid, in addition to new floodlights which have already been put up.
A separate application for two warehouses on land in Stanley, which was once earmarked for a new community stadium for Trinity but never built, was passed too.
Significantly, those developers promised to fund the Belle Vue revamp, provided the warehouses were approved and built.
Trinity chairman John Minards had told the council's planning committee that the revamp was vital to the club's future.
Belle Vue currently falls well short of Super League standards and they have had to seek special dispensation to remain in the top division as a result.
Mr Minards said that dispensation was likely to end if the improvements were not allowed.
He told councillors: "We have a simple vision, which is to be a sustainable Super League club situated in the city of Wakefield, that promotes the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the people of Wakefield, and that represents Wakefield in elite sport.
"Today's application is crucial to the success of that vision.
"Wakefield Trinity is a brand recognised across the world and synonymous with our city, but unfortunately the image we project to our visitors is one of dereliction and decay, after over 50 years of investment and neglect."
Mr Minards added the redevelopment would "give the people of Wakefield a 21st century stadium I feel we all deserve."
The club says the improvements will also help them to provide "high quality facilities" for the community, including its new ladies and disabled teams.
Mr Minards said examples from other clubs suggested Trinity might enjoy a 20 per cent boost in match attendances, which he said averaged between 5,000 and 5,500 before the pandemic.
More than 2,000 people had supported the application in writing, with only four objections submitted opposing it.
Councillors approved the redevelopment unanimously, before then granting consent for the two warehouses financially linked to Belle Vue, which will be built off Newmarket Lane in Stanley.
Planning officers admitted that the storage facilities would cause "substantial harm" to the greenbelt land they'll be built on, because of their size and appearance.
However, they said the £8.8m developers have promised to contribute to the Belle Vue revamp, justified the "very special circumstances" needed to approve building on the greenbelt.
That money will make up around 80 per cent of the funding needed, with the rest coming from both the club and a rugby league resilience fund set up by Wakefield Council last month.
Trinity is expecting to be given around £2m from that fund.
Councillors approved the warehouses by a majority vote, although that decision has to be formally ratified by the government.
Local Democracy Reporting Service