Broad support for Bristol City's plans to rebuild Ashton Gate with new £40 million stadium
Bristol City FC is receiving broad support from all sides over its plans to rebuild Ashton Gate with a new £40 million stadium.
Bristol mayor George Ferguson has described the plans as a "win win for everyone concerned" while former Labour Councillor Peter Crispin who is leading the campaign to prevent any development at Ashton Vale said he backed the rebuild "110 per cent".
The Post exclusively revealed yesterday that the club has drawn up plans to build a new 26,000-seat stadium at the current ground.
It would be rebuilt stand by stand and if planning consents are given without any hold ups, then the revamped ground would be finished in time for the 2016/17 season.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Matches would continue to be played at Ashton Gate while the construction work was carried out.
But the club has stressed it will not give up its hopes to build a new stadium at Ashton Vale which is still at the centre of a legal dispute.
Stuart Rogers, chairman of the newly-merged Supporters' Club and Trust, said: "Most fans welcome the fact that a Plan B has been articulated because it signals some intent to resolve the stadium issue once and for all.
"For the long-term future of the club, we need a new stadium."
He said it was especially important for the club to reveal its intentions given the precarious position of the club which is struggling at the bottom of the Championship.
But Mr Rogers has raised a couple of concerns over consultation and funding.
He said the rebuild plans at Ashton Gate appear to be at an advanced stage and wondered to what extent that fans will have any input in the scheme.
He also would like to see some clarification on the basis in which majority shareholder Steve Lansdown is pledging to underwrite the cost of the rebuild.
Mr Lansdown has promised to pay the whole £40 million bill although the club is going to offset this by raising as much of the money as it can.
Former Labour Councillor Peter Crispin, who has led the latest campaign against any development at Ashton Vale, said he was "110 per cent" in support of the plans to rebuild Ashton Gate.
He said: "It is an eminently sensible suggestion and I give my full support.
"I can remember serving on the council's Planning Committee years ago when the club was asking for permission to rebuild one of the stands.
"I fully supported that scheme and was very disappointed when they didn't go ahead."
But Mr Crispin made clear that his pressure group, SAVE, would not give up on the fight to get the whole of the 43-acre site at Ashton Vale registered as a town green.
The council decided two years ago to register only part of the site - but not the area where the club would like to build its new £96 million stadium.
The group mounted a legal challenge which led to hearings in the High Court in London.
In May last year, the council dropped its defence of the judicial review which has led to another public inquiry that will be held in October.
It will examine new evidence which has been supplied by the club on the 19 acres which has not been designated as a town green.
If the campaigners win this battle, it is unlikely to be the end of the story because Mr Lansdown has already vowed to fight to get the entire site stripped of its town green status.
Councillor Colin Smith, who represents Bedminster ward and is a City season ticket holder, said he would prefer the new stadium to be built at Ashton Vale because of the extra investment and confidence it would bring to South Bristol.
He said: "I am disappointed that the club is having to look at a contingency plan should the stadium at Ashton Vale not proceed but I do understand the reality of the situation.
"The club has got to move forward and if that's the decision to stay at Ashton Gate, then that's the decision and I will happily support it.
"But I can't help feeling that in terms of employment and investment for South Bristol, the stadium at Ashton Vale should go ahead."
Bristol Mayor George Ferguson, who vigorously opposed a new Sainsbury's supermarket at Ashton Gate, said the rebuild plans were a "win win for all concerned".
He said: "This announcement should be welcomed by City fans and the wider Ashton community alike. Hopefully all can now unite behind this fine new stadium for Bristol.
"We must now pull out all the stops to work closely with the club to take these plans through planning so that this long-running issue can be resolved once and for all whatever the outcome of the Ashton Vale legal process. The threat of the massive new supermarket and petrol filling station will be lifted and hopefully Ashton Vale residents will be able to drop their legal proceedings when planning is granted.
"City supporters can celebrate that they will be able to stay in their historic home of Ashton Gate, and raise a glass to their future success in a bigger and better Wedlock's!
"I shall also back the club in their desire for a new Ashton Gate railway station to coincide with the development which will provide a major public transport boost for this whole area and give easy access to Bristol's premier conference and exhibition centre from all stops from Temple Meads and eventually from Portishead.
"This represents a huge boost to the regeneration of South Bristol, bringing crucial jobs and investment to the city. What better prize could I expect in my first three months as mayor?"
But Mr Ferguson has come under fire from at least one City fan who commented on our thisisbristol.co.uk website: "South Bristol has lost hundreds of potential jobs which would of been provided by private enterprise, lost new housing on the Sainsburys current site and Bristol's Mayor seems to be overjoyed. Shame on you!"
Another fan commented: "This is great news - everyone is happy. we can have a inner-city ground and enjoy the pre-match experience and get a new train station to boot. surely these are all good things."
One disgruntled resident commented: "Whole plan stinks. No extra parking and no off season respite because of the rugby. Great news for residents!"