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Story posted: Thursday, 28th September 2023

Gresley Rovers Football Club - Statement 28/09/2023
Following recent meetings between club representatives of both Gresley Rovers Football Club and South Derbyshire District Council followed by subsequent discussions involving board members over recent week, we are today, formally announcing our decision to withdraw the planning application, submitted in February 2022, for a community football stadium and boxing club, located in Main St, Albert Village.

In reaching this significant decision, a number of aspects were considered, mainly related to spiraling costs impacting the financial viability of the development on that particular location.

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In a previous supporter’s forum in February, I presented a detailed summary of where things were with the planning application having taken over the project administration on behalf of the club. In that same meeting we communicated several barriers had been uncovered and at the time still needed addressing in order to allow the application to move forward to planning committee for final decision.

As a brief reminder, the main issues shared, among others, were:
• Successful completion of an outstanding survey relating to Reptile and Invertebrate assessment
• Discovery of Japanese Knot Weed and costs associated with remediation.
• Costs associated with UK government mandatory legislation related to Biodiversity Net Gain

Following the successful completion of the reptile and invertebrate surveys at a cost to the club of several thousand pounds in May, this particular barrier preventing things moving forwards was removed.

On the topic of Japanese Knot Weed, the liability for the remedial costs required to resolve the issue was still being discussed however, the most significant issue remaining was to establish via the local council what the costs would be for the application to meet the mandatory UK government legislation on Biodiversity Net gain.

In August we received an email from SDDC provisionally outlining those costings.

In summary, for the project to become a reality we need to find £1.1 million for Biodiversity Net gain costs

Breakdown of costs related to Biodiversity net gain
Bio-diversity Net Gain/No Net Loss contribution £840,000
Insurance Fee (10%) + inflation (1.75%) £85,470
Management Fee (20%) + inflation (1.75%) £170,940
Monitoring and enforcement £2000
Set-up fee £7000
Total cost for BNG £1,105,140

On receipt of this information, we requested a meeting with SDDC which was held in late August at the Council offices.

During the meeting it was confirmed that despite the council’s genuine desire to support a new football and boxing club development, there was no way around the costs related to satisfying this mandatory UK Government legislation.

Following that meeting, subsequent board discussions were held to review and agree next steps, the result of those discussion resulted in unanimous decision to formally withdraw from our planning application.

In addition, we can confirm that the Bridge St/Albert village site will no longer be considered as a viable site after over three decades of the club trying to relocate there.

As most people are aware, extensive efforts going back over 3 decades since 1991 to relocate the football club to this site have been made and each time progress stalled for a variety of reasons.

In our latest attempt we hoped, of course, things would be different, especially when one of our directors, Pete Robinson, purchased the Moat Ground in January 2020.
Over the weeks following Pete’s significant investment, he commenced work putting together a full and comprehensive planning application which was submitted in February 2022. Following the application Pete made further significant personal financial outlay in completing surveys and paying for legal and planning consultancy fees.

In June 2022 we announced that Pete had brought the land we were planning to build on from SDDC council, further demonstrating if it were needed, his huge personal and financial commitment from him in making this move happen after over 30 years of the club trying.

Pete Robinson has done more than anyone over the last 30 years in trying to drag this project over the line to make it happen for the benefit of the community. This has been come at significant personal cost to him. I’m sure that every single Gresley Rovers supporter, board member and volunteer connected with our club will remain forever grateful and indebted to Pete for what he has done in trying to make the football and boxing club development happen for the community of Swadlincote and surrounding areas.

Throughout the course of this application to re-locate, and in particular since January of this year, the football club has also financially supported the process to the tune of £21,000.

This financial outlay was necessary to ensure costs for any final surveys, architect changes and planning consultancy fees were funded. This money is of course non-recoverable, however the board felt it absolutely necessary to support and contribute what it could, given the significant financial investment that Pete had already made in order to try and achieve planning permission.

Unfortunately, and considering recent developments I shared earlier, we believe the decision to formally withdraw from the project on this site once and for all to be the right one given the ever-increasing costs associated with developing this particular location which cannot be financially supported.

Whilst the club are hugely disappointed with the situation, we find ourselves in we are not giving up on the challenge, far from it. Pete Robinson remains owner of the Moat Ground and together with every single board member remains committed to helping the club reach its goal which of course also include plans for a new community-based boxing club.

The Bridge Street site remains under Pete’s ownership and ongoing discussions are being had with regards to its future between both Pete and SDDC. These plans may include a new application on the land for the boxing club development only or selling the land back to the council which is an option in the contract Pete has. These are things Pete is currently reviewing.

Over recent months working through the challenges faced related to this planning application, we have formed new and positive relationships with key stakeholders at SDDC. The Council have re-iterated that they are fully supportive of our overall goal of relocating the football club to an alternative site, as well as the new boxing club development. As such, and to this end, they have offered to support and work with us to assess alternative, cost viable options moving forwards.

Despite this disappointing news, the clubs current board of directors remain fully committed and hopeful of moving on from the three-decade legacy of trying to relocate to the Albert Village site and instead explore other options for a new football stadium and boxing club development moving forwards.

Gary Norton
Gresley Rovers Football Club

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