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Trust Newsletter - Club submits Planning Application
Trust Newsletter - Club submits Planning Application

Club takes necessary step of submitting Planning Application

This week, York City Football Club Limited has taken the necessary step of submitting a Planning Application for the alteration and extension of Huntington Stadium.

The Club has issued a Press Release and the matter has, to some extent, also been covered in the local media. This Trust Newsletter seeks to provide supporters with further information about this latest development. For more information about the work and role of your Supporters Trust and how the new York City is delivering the Community Vision, please see the Trusts website at . Since the re-launch of its website, there has been a daily diet of Trust News.

In summary, the application for the Huntington Stadium site is for:
- A new North Stand away supporters terracing with cantilevered covered stand capacity 1,654 including 10% disabled capacity, including two kiosks, toilets and storage;
- A new South Stand home supporters terracing with cantilevered covered stand capacity 2,068 including 10% disabled facility, new administrative facilities, social club, club shop, toilets and two kiosks;
- Main Stand remains unaltered and includes Board Room, eight corporate boxes and has a seating capacity of 951;
- West Stand - existing facility altered from terracing to seating capacity (1,512)
- Total anticipated capacity of 6,185.
- The plans are very similar to those previously covered in the local press and as made available to supporters at the Clubs Open Day.

In March 2003, with York City on the brink of extinction, Trust representatives agreed a form of solution, with landlords BCH and the Council, that satisfied the Football Leagues requirements. That necessary agreement required the new York City company to undertake its best endeavours to achieve full completion of the redevelopment of Huntington Stadium. BCH provided a lease to the Club to use Bootham Crescent until May 2004. Previously, in April 2002, BCH had entered an agreement with Persimmon plc for the sale of Bootham Crescent, conditional on vacant possession being achieved. In the summer of 2002 Persimmon submitted a planning application to demolish Bootham Crescent and replace it with a housing estate.

In March 2003, as part of its Rescue Package, the Trust put in place a Board of Directors to run York City Football Club Limited. That included Stadium Development Director Ian McAndrew, a Chartered Surveyor with vast experience in all aspects of commercial property in York and across the region. In turn, the Club appointed a team of consultants to work on various specialist aspects of the potential stadium development.
There have been many challenges and issues to deal with to progress matters to the current stage. The Club has used its best endeavours to reach the stage of submitting the Planning Application. Looking ahead, the scheme faces many difficult obstacles, many of which have come to light from the work carried out over the past seven months.

If the Club is ousted from its Bootham Crescent home, it may have to play its home matches at Huntington Stadium, subject to meeting all the requirements of the League regarding stadia, being licensed by the Football Licensing Authority and receiving a Health and Safety Certificate.

There are certain costs directly associated with submission of the Planning Application. At this stage, these are being settled by Persimmon, as have various other consultants fees.

In summary:
- Unless the council officers refuse to register the application and request more information or supporting documents, the application is lodged and goes public.
- The scheme then goes out for consultation to various parties providing them with the opportunity to comment, support or object.
- Over the next few months, Club representatives (primarily led by Stadium Director Ian McAndrew), working with consultants, will then negotiate with the planners, meet with consultees, objectors etc and seek to satisfy and resolve issues.
- A Planning Committee date will be agreed and the scheme will go forward to members with an officers report with recommendations for either refusal or approval.
- The application may be called in by Government office as the site is owned by the local authority. This could include a public enquiry.
- If approval is given, it will have lots of conditions, including a Section 106 Agreement. This is a legally binding document and the planning approval is not valid until agreed and signed. This will need to include issues such as travel plans and relocation of the running track.
- The earliest time consent could be achieved is around Easter 2004.

Should anyone need reminding, the potential move from Bootham Crescent to the Huntington site was not instigated by the Football Club, the Clubs current directors, the Trust, the supporters or the local community. The threatened move is at the behest of the majority shareholders of Bootham Crescent Holdings Plc, the company that now owns Bootham Crescent.

In a letter to the Clubs shareholders in July 1999, Craig asked for approval to transfer the ownership of Bootham Crescent out of York City Association Football & Athletic Club plc and to a new holding company, Bootham Crescent Holdings, from whom the Club would then rent the ground. He explained that the reason for the transfer was to avoid a Rule imposed on all clubs by the Football Association. Craig wrote that he and his fellow directors, Swallow, Webb and Quickfall - wanted to form BCH to bypass the Rule because Your directors are concerned that in certain circumstances these provisions could adversely affect the ability of [York City] to continue playing football at Bootham Crescent.

The Rules language may be contrived, but its purpose is very straightforward. It is designed to achieve exactly the opposite of what Craig said: to protect clubs ability to remain in their historic homes. Its main purpose is supposed to be to deter asset-strippers from taking over clubs, winding them up, then profiting from selling the grounds to property developers.

In April 2002 John Batchelor acquired the Club from BCH for just 1. Around the same time, in secret deals, Batchelor/his Racing Team received a 400,000 payment and the Clubs security of tenure at Bootham Crescent was ended. BCH also entered a multi-million deal with property company Persimmon plc, such that Persimmon would buy Bootham Crescent when vacant possession is achieved (i.e. the football club has been ousted).

The Club was driven towards the brink of extinction. In March 2003, the Trust completed a Rescue Package whereby the Trusts new company, York City Football Club Limited, acquired the football business together with certain assets and liabilities. The Trust and the new Club also inherited the problem of having to work to maintain a decent home in the city.

The threatened loss of the Bootham Crescent facilities also threatens the Clubs future survival in the Football League and the ability to deliver the Community Vision. York City supporters and the local community have clearly demonstrated that they want the opportunity for the Club to deliver the Community Vision through its historic Bootham Crescent home.

As noted above, to get to the stage of submitting the Planning Application, the Club has already had to face many difficulties. In addition, further obstacles to the move have come to light from the hard work undertaken over the past seven months.

Some of the obstacles that would need to be resolved before the Club could move to Huntington include:
- Relocation of the running track so that the athletes continue to have a suitable facility;
- The concerns of local residents;
- Objectors to the planning application;
- Archaeological issues at the site;
- Health and safety matters;
- Licensing of the stadium by the FLA;
- Travel plans and traffic issues around the Monks Cross area;
- Stadium management issues at a venue to be shared with the Rugby Club;
- Funding the development scheme and associated costs; and
- The implications for the Clubs future revenue generation.

York City is about far more than just 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. The Club is not only a place where local people come together to watch football in a safe and friendly environment, but also a means of delivering community and education work.

Under the ownership and control of the Supporters Trust, we are now building a Club that is at the heart of the community. A Club that properly embraces its relationships with the supporters, local schools, businesses and the community.

Please continue to provide positive support for the future of York City.

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