08/12/2011 : WWOYTB : Food Store Exhibition Feedback
8 December 2011 : Food Store Exhibition Feedback
Just under two weeks ago, Yeovil Town held a three day exhibition, covering plans for a new Food Store on the land behind the Copse Road away end, building on land currently occupied by two training pitches and the 'away supporters' car park. For those who have maybe been out of touch with the latest plans, two previous news items on Ciderspace and a WWOYTB Blog entry may help bring you up to speed.

Link: Glovers Planning Supermarket Sweep.

Link: Club Canvasses Local Residents Over Retail Development

Link: WWOYTB : Food Store Exhibition.

On the Friday, which was the first day of the three exhibition days, Glovers fan Tony Elbourn visited the Alec Stock Lounge and came back with the following views on what he saw:

"I spent two hours at the exhibition, most of which was listening to Mr Fry expand on the plans. He explained that the club have formed a partnership with CDS (Chris Dawson's Range group) to develop the new building which will be larger than nearby Asda. CDS will build the store, the completed development will be sold off and the profit split between the club and CDS, though I don't know in what proportion or which of the "Huish Park group" companies will be involved.

I asked Mr Fry how supporters would get into the car park, as the plans showed the existing main entrance being used as a car park for the new store. He explained that with the funds raised from the sale the existing road in from Lufton Way would be extended right across the site to a new entrance on Western Avenue. Traffic issues at the end of a game would be eased by a new roundabout at the junction of Western Avenue and Copse Road (which I think may have to be paid for from the sale as part of planning conditions). I still wonder how a new entrance will fit with the existing pedestrian lights.

My next topic covered improvements to the stadium, which were excluded from the plans. I listened to a long catalogue of problems with the existing facilities, both customer-facing and back-office. I gathered that the away stand will be developed, but hard details were sketchy. Other, more distant plans were also mentioned but were even sketchier. Mr Fry said that another exhibition will be held closer to the time, with for me an implied "after plans have been drawn up" rather than "at the start of consultations with supporters".

Finally, I asked about replacement training pitches. Mr Fry said that three local sites were under consideration, one of which is currently the focus for the Blue Sky co-development. Planning issues were mentioned again so this is not a done deal yet.

Personally I am concerned that this development, if it gets planning approval and a buyer is found, will actually detract from the Huish Park experience (with increased traffic problems) rather than improve it (because back-office areas will be replaced rather than providing better facilities for supporters).

Overhead plan of Food Store and impact on Huish Park land
Overhead plan of Food Store and impact on Huish Park land

Following the exhibition, articles appeared in the following week's Western Gazette and Yeovil Express. Some of the wording within the news items suggested that at least part of the material had been supplied to them by the club, particularly on the Express article. The articles state that the plans "could create 300 jobs" in the town although it doesn't state if these would be construction jobs for building the Food Store, or direct supermarket employees.

They state that "more than 200" people visited the exhibition across the weekend. With the plans having marked a radical shift from the original 'Retail Park' being proposed, this change of direction surprised a number of supporters who noted the shift without explanation from a 'Retail Park' to a single 'Food Store'. Chairman John Fry told the Gazette that the planned housing development around Thorne Lane, known as the Brimsmore Key Site, had influenced his thinking:

"At the start of the year we showed plans for a retail park, but we feel a food store is much more relevant with the development going on in the surrounding area (Brimsmore Key Site). We think there is a big need for it and interest has been shown already."

The Gazette also refer to changes that are not identified on the exhibition documents, mentioning "a revised road layout at the junction with Western Avenue to aid traffic flow" - echoing the feedback obtained above. Mr Fry also suggests that some of the money obtained from the project will be needed to comply with Football League Ground Regulations:

"We need the development urgently with new Football League regulations and it will help build towards a better match day experience for the fans, better facilities for the players and, ultimately, will help give us a bigger turnover. If planning permission is refused, the future and progress of the club would be put at serious risk."

We're not sure where the club believe the ground would be lacking in terms of Ground Regulations, what the deadline for these would be, or what the Plan B will be if these changes need to be implemented without the money from the Food Store development - there's been no hints of any changes on the horizon planned by the Football League that would fit in with the timescales we're talking about for the construction of the Food Store.

Prior to the exhibition, WWOYTB asked a series of questions, and also invited further questions from supporters. This is what was possible to deduce from the conversations held at the exhibition and in the brochure. Note answers are our own interpretation - the club may have different views:

Qu 1. What role, if any, does Chris Dawson and The Range play in the food store development? Is he still involved, if so how?

Whilst it doesn't look as though a store from The Range will be built on Huish Park, it appears that Chris Dawson is still involved in the project. He is acting as a broker between the club and any prospective supermarket and will manage the project that ensures the building is erected. He will therefore receive a financial benefit from the project if it reaches completion.

Qu 2. Is the food store the only planned development on that land, or are other businesses planned? If others how much land will the food store take up?

According to the current plans, the food store is the only planned development. We have heard that the club have discussed other alternatives, but that is the one that is on the table. The food store, plus its car park and the community land will take up approximately six acres of the existing Huish Park land.

Qu 3. The exhibition is apparently just for the Retail Park project. What is the status of the plans for the Copse Road Stand development?

The Copse Road Stand was not part of the plans displayed at the exhibition. It would appear to have been fully separated from the Food Store project. The club state that it is still part of the club's ambitions, but in an interview with BBC Somerset John Fry indicated that the club would not be able to afford all of the things on their wish list from the sale of the Food Store land. He didn't elaborate as to what may need to be compromised on.

Qu 4. When will the plans for the Retail Park and Copse Road Stand be formally submitted to South Somerset District Council?

The club's literature indicated that plans for the Food Store would be submitted to SSDC in December 2011. There is no date for the Copse Road Stand anymore.

Qu 5. Are the club selling the Retail Park land? Or is it being rented/leased?

The land will be sold outright for a series of staged payments - the initial sale of the land and the occupancy by a supermarket chain appear to be the major trigger points.

Qu 6. Which Yeovil Town company will directly financially benefit from the agreement?

It's most likely that this will be Yeovil Town Holdings Limited that will receive the funds, but this has not been disclosed at this stage.

Qu 7. Where will the first team train once development starts?

The club are looking at three alternative sites at present - all undisclosed. There also appear to be some obligations upon the club to provide 'community' facilities to compensate for the loss of land.

Qu 8. YTFC's press release specifically talks about a "food store development". What exactly does this phrase mean? Are we talking about a supermarket, a mini supermarket, a convenience store or what? Presumably the larger the development the more car parking is required.

The size of the plot of land is quoted as 70,000 square feet - larger than the Asda in Preston Road, so its fair to say that this will be a full-blown supermarket firm, and not a 'convenience store'. The plans allow for 491 parking spaces.

Qu 9. Will this impact on/reduce the match day parking facilities at HP?

Inevitable. The plans shown mean that the current 'away supporters car park' to the side of the top pitch will no longer exist, whilst any grass banks the club have tended to use for overflow for large crowds will also disappear. The East Stand car park and the players/VPs car park by the artificial pitch will remain at more or less current capacity.

Qu 10. Does this proposal mean proposed Range development is now dead in the water and by inference then the development of the Copse Road stand and attendant supporters facilities?

The Range development appears to be dead for now. The Copse Road Stand project with associated supporter facilities has been separated out. See answer to Question 3.

Qu 11. Do the club believe they have a good, transparent relationship with supporters? As this coming out of the blue suggests not.

Quite possibly this is a rhetorical question! We think the club needs to communicate more (and better) over such issues - however, we can't speak for the club as to what their views are on this. As for why the change in tactics has occurred, Chairman John Fry told the Western Gazette that this was a development that would be easier to justify given the current housing developments at Brimsmore Key Site - a planned development area around Thorne Lane of around 830 homes, shops, a primary school and other facilities. The logic is doubtless that such a large development would need a supermarket to support it.

Qu 12. Will the proposed development include any measures to address traffic management issues on matchdays?

Qu 13. What will happen to the car park will supporters have to find somewhere else or will they still be able to use it free of charge or the 2.00 match day price because it will be unfair for people using the supermarket to get free parking & us having to pay. Or will there be a ticket machine?

Qu 14. How does this development affect the football club on match days with regard to car parking & road access? How much land is actualy being used & does change of ownership of any land sold off lead to any problems with future developments of the football club?

Qu 15. Whats happening to the official car park, on the pictures it looks like you wont be able to access the car park, what are there plans for that?

Qu 16. Can you ask what the clubs plans are for supporter parking if this development goes ahead? With the Copse Road entrance appearing to be blocked off to Food Store Parking, and assuming the majority of supporter parking will remain to the east of the Screwfix Community stand, do the club plan to create a new entrance to the main car park, perhaps from Western Avenue?

Qu 17. I was wondering could you ask what the clubs plans are for supporter parking? If the majority of parking is to remain on the main carpark East of the Screwfix Community stand, do the club plan to make a new entrance to this carpark? Seeing as the current Copse Road entrance looks set to be blocked off to Food Store parking, are the club perhaps thinking of making a new entrance from Western Avenue?

Given all five of the above questions are along similar topics, we're grouping all of these together.

The exhibition documents suggest that there 'may' be traffic management employed in the Food Store car park on matchdays. Our experience of Football League clubs that are situated close to, or in, Retail Parks, is that the onus is upon the retail park rather than the football club to provide their own parking management. Most appear to do so just by the threat of fines or car clamping by the display of prominent signs. How many actually carry out their threats is another matter - they have a fine line between the costs of hiring attendants to police the car park, and the risk of clamping a genuine shopper. Obviously if it becomes clear that there are no attendants monitoring the car park, then football supporters tend to 'take a chance' on the signage and park there ... that is until word gets out that people are being clamped/ticketed. In truth, we probably won't find out the supermarket company's parking policy until they open.

In terms of football club traffic, the club have suggested that there may be a new access route onto Western Avenue from the East Stand Car Park, although it's worth noting that this access route was not mentioned on the exhibition plans, and would merely compensate for the loss of the current Copse Road access. If that new access route is not included in the plans submitted to SSDC, then the entrance/exit route would be only via the Lufton Way (Main Stand side) entrance, with East Stand traffic looping around the away end as shown on the exhibition document (see diagram). Clearly that is going to increase the bottleneck coming out of the ground if the club can't get direct access to Western Avenue, given the loss of the Copse Road entrance/exit. Given the variance between what's on the exhibition plans, and what was verbally discussed, it looks like we'll have to wait for the actual plans to be submitted to SSDC to see what is in and what is out of scope with respect to access routes in and out of the stadium.

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Comments On This Article
camelgreen said ...

I would like the club to be more transparent, the news from Mr Fry that if the planning did not go through then the future for the club was dire came as huge shock, certainly did not realise the financial situation was that bad,and thats why a lot of fans are losing interest intheir club, we dont even know who owns the club we presume Mr Hayward.I know it has long been Mr Frys ambition to enlarge then size of the stadium, was it 14000 at one time!! Does anyone know how much we got for Craig Allcock, was their a sell on clause with Lee Peltier? and finally what has happened to Haynes-Brown we thought he looked very promising.
09/12/2011 11:48:44

chrisl said ...

I really do not believe that the club have given serious consideration to the potential access problems. I come up from Dorchester and any crowd above about 4,000 causes no end of problems as it is. The present access routes are insufficient to support large crowds as it is. Who on earth believs that further retail around the ground will not cause further problems; traffic management is not the answer as the potential increase in volume could be astronomical. Personally I believe that John Fry has his head in cloud cuckoo land, and whilst I know that the club needs further financing I don't see this as the answer and I hope that the planning is turned down on access grounds alone - let the locals have their say and I am sure that these plans will be rejected.
09/12/2011 18:08:58

camelgreen said ...

What does it say that just over 200 people turned up for the exhibition when 450 turned up for the meeting regarding Tescos going to Martock? Lots of concerns re access for fans into the stadium.
10/12/2011 11:43:07

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Other Entries In The WWOYTB Section.
Date Title Author Link
01/03/2012 SUBJ1 WWOYTB Link
09/01/2012 Update Bulletin No.2 WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Appendix B : Additional Comments Made WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Conclusions And Next Steps WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Other Issues For Discussion WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Relationship Between Supporters And Club WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Transparency Of Information From The Club WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Feelings About The Direction Of The Club WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Ratings Of Matchday Experience WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Ratings On Commercial Attributes WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Overall Off The Field Performance WWOYTB Link
03/01/2012 WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Introduction And Background WWOYTB Link
22/12/2011 Update Bulletin No.1 WWOYTB Link
08/12/2011 Food Store Exhibition Feedback WWOYTB Link
17/11/2011 Food Store Exhibition WWOYTB Link
03/11/2011 Supporters Survey No.1 WWOYTB Link
31/10/2011 We Want Our Yeovil Town Back! - An Introduction WWOYTB Link
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1/9/2012Update Bulletin No.2WWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Appendix B : Additional Comments MadeWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Conclusions And Next StepsWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Other Issues For DiscussionWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Relationship Between Supporters And ClubWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Transparency Of Information From The ClubWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Feelings About The Direction Of The ClubWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Ratings Of Matchday ExperienceWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Ratings On Commercial AttributesWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Overall Off The Field PerformanceWWOYTBLink
1/3/2012WWOYTB Survey No.1 Report : Introduction And BackgroundWWOYTBLink
12/22/2011Update Bulletin No.1WWOYTBLink
12/8/2011Food Store Exhibition FeedbackWWOYTBLink
11/17/2011Food Store ExhibitionWWOYTBLink
11/3/2011Supporters Survey No.1WWOYTBLink
10/31/2011We Want Our Yeovil Town Back! - An IntroductionWWOYTBLink
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