Yorkcourt refused to make Wakefield community stadium 'contribution', council says

The firm behind a plan for a new community stadium for Wakefield, which remains unbuilt, refused to make a "contribution" towards it being developed.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 1:41 pm
Designs for the new community stadium, which was supposed to be built on land in Newmarket, in Stanley.

Yorkcourt received planning permission for a 12,000 seater venue, which would host Wakefield Trinity home games and community sports facilities on Newmarket in Stanley, in 2012.

Seven years on, the ground has never been built, and Wakefield Trinity are now expected to stay at Belle Vue and have it redeveloped, after buying it from a third party earlier this year.

But it has now emerged that Yorkcourt was asked by Wakefield Council to make a contribution towards the community stadium being made a reality elsewhere. Yorkcourt responded by saying they didn't think it would be legally right for them to do so.

An application by Yorkcourt to build a new warehouse on the land drew strong criticism from Wakefield Trinity supporters.

The details have come to light as an application for a warehouse to be built on the Newmarket land goes back before a planning committee next Thursday morning.

Fans had staunchly objected to the proposal because the application made no mention of the community stadium.

Councillors voted to refuse the proposal in February, but the council says it needs to be considered again because four members of the committee have since been replaced. This change took effect before the reasons for the rejection could be rubberstamped.

A report going before the committee next week said: "In recognition of the concerns of objectors the applicant was asked to provide for a community stadium contribution which would be proportionate to the amount of floor space to be provided as part of this development.

"In response the applicant declined this request and indicated their belief that such a contribution would not be lawful, as it would not be necessary in planning terms and would therefore be contrary to the relevant guidance and legislation."

A total of four reasons were given by councillors to back up their decision to reject the warehouse plans in February.

These were, that the proposals would result in "undesirable piecemeal development; a loss of amenity to local residents; there was a "valid link" between the warehouse and the unbuilt community stadium and there was a "lack of trust" in Yorkcourt because of the saga.

However, following legal advice council officers say that all four of those factors have been deemed "unreasonable", and so new reasons will have to be put forward if the proposal is rejected again.

Setting out the reasons why citing a lack of trust wouldn't be appropriate or relevant, the report says: "Issues such as trust, which relate to the conduct and character of an applicant, are almost invariably immaterial to the assessment and determination of a planning application.

"Issues such as trust, which relate to the conduct and character of an applicant, are not discussed within the development plan and are not held to be material planning considerations."

Local Democracy Reporting Service