Nottingham Forest plans to redevelop City Groun approved by Rushcliffe Borough Council
Nottingham Forest’s plans to redevelop the City Ground have been approved.
Rushcliffe Borough Council’s planning committee green-lit the long-awaited plans during a special meeting on Thursday (July 28) ending years of waiting for Forest fans amid the club’s return to the Premier League.
The redevelopment will see the Peter Taylor Stand demolished and rebuilt to double its capacity from 5,000 to 10,000 spectators, making it the tallest of the four stands at the West Bridgford stadium.
The plans have been developed by Newark architectural firm Benoys.
The current stand, which the council says is outdated and lacks facilities usually associated with modern football clubs, will be demolished at the end of the current football season, which finishes in May 2023.
The rebuilt stand is then expected to be constructed throughout the 2023-24 football season, with the club hoping to have all work complete by the end of that season in time for a summer 2024 opening.
Once complete, the redeveloped stand will feature business and commercial facilities including hospitality suites and boxes, with one conference room able to hold as many as 1,200 people.
The stand would also be used for the day-to-day activities of the club and would be available for community groups and businesses to hire.
A rebuilt club shop will also be created on the southwest corner of the new stand, while a plaza will be created for pedestrian access and car parking.
However, the club will not be able to start any demolition or construction work on the stadium until the nearby Nottingham Britannia Rowing Club boathouse is demolished and then relocated.
The boathouse, which has been in the area for more than 100 years, is listed as an asset of community value and the club may require planning permission to complete this work before the stadium development takes place.
Once all of this work has been completed, however, and the stadium work is finished, the club will be able to progress with a 13-floor, 169-unit residential block sitting adjacent to the nearby Bridgford House apartments.
The new block, which has been reduced from 250 units, will include 88 one-bedroom, 76 two-bedroom and five three-bedroom flats.
Under planning conditions approved in Thursday’s meeting, the residential block can only come forward once all construction is completed on the stadium redevelopment and the boathouse.
Cash generated from the sale of the apartments is expected to be used to offset the £94.4m construction price of the wider development.
This sum has risen from the £80m estimation when the club first assessed the development in 2019, with documents citing rising construction costs and inflationary pressures for the £14.4m rise.
The club will also be asked to pay substantial Section 106 developer contributions to mitigate the impact of both the housing and the new stand.
Almost £1.7m will be provided by the club specifically for the Peter Taylor Stand, with £1.05m to be paid over five annual instalments to improve local bus services.
The club will spend £50,000 on traffic regulation orders to control parking on matchdays, with a further £190,000 to go towards matchday parking permits.
A further £50,000 will be spent on electronic transport displays and the same sum will be spent providing upgrades to footpaths along Grantham Canal.
And the club will be asked to pay £200,000 in cycle access improvements alongside £150,000 on highways safety works along the A60 in Nottingham City.
For the residential block, the club will pay £80,000 for residential car parking permits – with half specifically for Fox Road and Radcliffe Road.
There will also be £326,421 in contributions towards education and £23,578 towards local healthcare.
Once the work is complete, however, the redevelopment is expected to provide a significant boost to the local economy.
Figures published by the council state more than £800m could be added to the economy each year for the first decade of the redeveloped stadium, with £56.6m spent annually in pubs, shops, bars and other businesses.
As many as 253 jobs could be created locally within the construction phase, while papers state the club expects an additional 100 jobs to be created in-house alongside a 20% rise in flexible, matchday staff.
However, these figures are based on the club remaining in the Premier League, with the economic boost expected to reduce by as much as 20% if the club was to be relegated back to the Championship.
Speaking in the meeting, a spokesman for the club told councillors the development will deliver a sense of pride.
He said: “There’s a real prospect of delivering a key piece of sporting infrastructure, it’s great for the club, the borough, the city and wider area.
“That sense of pride, I think, will be very important.
“The architecture is fantastic, as well as the space around the building, the new plaza.
“The economic case is quite compelling. It’s £800m plus over 10 years, these are very significant economic dividends.”
Members of the planning committee also welcomed the scheme in principle, despite concerns raised over some potential impact arising from the development.
Vicky Price (Lib Dem) said: “I still have some very deep concerns around the viability of the flats and the developer contribution.
“Public services do need to be funded when there’s a new development and there’s a shortfall.
“That shortfall is justified on the basis of the economic benefits of the stand, but for me, that feels deeply unsatisfactory.”
However, councillors were told many of their concerns — which included matchday parking, the impact on residential areas and the location of the boat club — had been addressed by the club through the Section 106 agreement.
Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind), who represents Bingham West and proposed the recommendation to approve the plans, agreed and said: “All of my questions have been comprehensively answered [by officers].
“I fully accept that this application is completely unique.”
Leo Healy (Con), who represents Cotgrave, added: “I’m sure we’d all agree the new stand looks superb, it looks fantastic.
“The facilities will also provide new jobs, new opportunities for the football club and for the wider community — so there are lots of pluses as regards to that.”
Members of the committee approved the development by a margin of nine votes to two.