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Community Asset

Trust opposes demolition of BC

The Supporters Trust has now submitted its objection to the planning application to demolish the historic home of York City Football Club.

The fundamental basis of the objection was explained by Trust representative Richard Willis:

No planning approval should be granted for housing on the Bootham Crescent site unless a superior alternative facility is in place for the Club.

We want to ensure that the Club continues to have a decent home in the city that will enable it to survive and prosper in the future.

Persimmon have a conditional contract with Bootham Crescent Holdings to buy Bootham Crescent subject to planning permission and vacant possession. Within the last couple of months, Persimmon has made a planning application that could lead to the ousting of the Club from its historic home. Last month, Persimmon refused to answer questions posed by the Supporters Trust regarding their planning application.

A number of supporters have noted that the planning application contains several statements that appear unclear and/or misleading. Some people have already taken the time to write to the Council detailing their objections and it is anticipated that more people will want to submit comments in the near future. The matter is of great significance to the community of York and surrounding areas and City fans everywhere.

In making its decision, the authorities have to consider local and national planning guidelines. The Trusts objections to the plan to oust the Club from its historic home are, in part, based on the Draft Local Plan (and revisions thereto). The Local Plan promotes a sustainable strategy for York which is vital for the citys future development. Clearly, maintaining a professional football club will help to protect the status of the city and will strengthen its community. The Club is an asset to the city and the county and must not be lost.

If the Club was to be ousted from Bootham Crescent before an alternative superior stadium in terms of capacity, facilities and location - is in place, this would be detrimental to the sustainability of the Club and would increase the risk of the Clubs demise.

Certain policies in the Draft Local Plan, in effect, refer to the protection of leisure, social and community facilities. That is, before an existing site (such as Bootham Crescent) can be developed for some other purpose, it must be proved that either the facilities are no longer required or that alternative acceptable facilities are available.

The Draft Local Plan is available for reading on line via .
References of interest in the Draft Local Plan include Policy C3 (Change Of Use Of Community Facilities) and Chapter 11 (Leisure and Recreation). Policy L1b (Loss of Local Leisure Facilities) of the First Set of Pre-Inquiry Changes is also instructive.

In their letter to the Planning Office (City of York Council, 9 St Leonards Place, York), the Trust also express concern about the planning applications reference to vacation of the ground at the end of the 2002/03 season. Whilst John Batchelor has made assurances that the Club will not have to vacate Bootham Crescent at the end of the current season, many supporters remain unclear and concerned that no such assurances have been forthcoming from Douglas Craig or Persimmon.

It is understood that, this season, Craig has continued to attend matches at Bootham Crescent, taking a seat in the area commonly referred to as the Directors Box. Earlier this year, it was announced that Persimmon had entered some form of sponsorship deal with the Club and John Batchelors Racing Team involving a significant cash injection.

Last week the Evening Press revealed that the four major shareholders of BCH, and their respective wives, had between them sold 20,000 BCH shares to Persimmon (i.e. 10% of the total shares in issue). If it is assumed that the amount per share paid by Persimmon was equivalent to that demanded in the original document issued by BCH in January 2002 (i.e. a total price of 4.5 million to acquire 100% of BCH), then Messrs Craig, Quickfall, Swallow and Webb have reaped approximately 450,000 between them.

The proceeds from the value of Bootham Crescent that go into the pockets of a few individuals is at the expense of the Club, its supporters and the community. If York City Football Club is to have a new superior stadium, those proceeds would go a long way towards enabling the development to be funded.

Richard Willis added:
The Supporters Trust will continue to work positively, with all parties, to ensure that the Club continues to have a decent home in the city for the benefit of the whole community.

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