Workington’s new community stadium moved a step closer after Allerdale Borough Council’s Executive agreed to take the project to the next stage today.
The plans include an 8,000 capacity stadium on the current site of Borough Park, hospitality and conference facilities, and a 3G training pitch on nearby land.
The Executive also agreed to continue negotiations with the NHS to provide medical facilities and a pharmacy on the site. It is also hoped the stadium will provide office-space for Sellafield employees, bringing 300 people into the town.
The Council was approached by Workington Town Rugby League club and Workington Reds football club, to investigate the possibility of building a new stadium for them both. Over the past few months, plans have been developed which include an assessment of suitable sites, visits to similar facilities at York, Leigh and Warrington, the purchase of nearby land at Lonsdale Park, and the appointment of consultants to develop designs and a planning application.
Whilst the new stadium would be home to the clubs, it would also be a facility for the community to enjoy. The training pitch will be available for groups to use, and there are plans in the future to completely redevelop the riverside area and open it up for recreational use.
The new stadium builds upon the success of the nearby leisure centre and the recent approval of a hotel, café and restaurant close to the site. It is all part of the Council’s commitment to make sport and leisure accessible to all to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents, as well as giving local businesses a boost by making our towns more attractive to investors.
The stadium plans are also key to the council’s bid to be a host for Rugby League World Cup games in 2021 which, if successful, would give an additional boost to the economy and promote sport in the area.
Speaking at the meeting, Alan Smith, Leader of the Council said: “This project is all about bringing these sporting facilities into the 21st century. It is a major redevelopment of the area which meets many of the council’s objectives and a smaller proposal would not do this. But this is more than just a stadium. This is about being ambitious for our area and building a community facility which will be used by everyone and inspire the wealth of sporting talent in the area.”
Deputy Leader, Mark Fryer, added: “The project meets the priorities of the council and there is a strong economic and strategic case for it. The quality of it is due to the strong commitment of the partners, including the teams, the NHS and Sellafield, which collectively brings the vision for developing the area and building the great sporting facilities that we have before us today. ”
It is hoped that a planning application can be submitted by the end of January 2019. This has been delayed due to changes to the original design to accommodate the extra office space for the workers from Sellafield.
These late changes to the design have also increased the estimated cost of the project by £10m, to around £25m. However, the increase in rental income helps to make the whole project more viable. It also meets the council’s priorities to boost the economy of Workington and make it more sustainable by bringing large numbers of workers into the town.
It is estimated the stadium would directly support 400 FTE jobs and 36 jobs indirectly, with a further 345 FTE jobs in the construction phase alone.
A full financial business case with operating and funding arrangements is still being devised and three potential funding models are being considered.
Members will be presented with more detail on the possible financial arrangements at a later date and any decisions made at today’s Executive meeting are subject to approval of the business case. The decisions are also subject to the granting of planning permission.
If everything is approved as planned, then construction is due to start in November 2019 with completion in the spring of 2021.