Yeovil Town are to launch plans to build a new stand at Huish Park. The new development will be at the Copse Road End of the stadium, with a capacity of 3,500 being stated as planned by the Glovers. The move also confirms that the two top training pitches at the club will cease to be used and plans are afoot to redevelop the land for retail usage which is claimed will create 300 jobs for the town. The land is planned to be transformed into retail land - the business purpose is not described, although the project to redevelop the land will be managed by CDS which is a company owned by Chris Dawson, who also owns The Range - a Home Leisure and Garden empire. It would therefore be no surprise if he plans to open a branch in Yeovil on the current land.
As far as we can tell, there are no plans lodged with South Somerset District Council although the club have frequently reported holding talks with the council. A formal planning application would be needed though, to push through such a development. If the plans are successful then the club will need to find new first team training facilities for the first team. Chairman John Fry is quoted as labelling the project as a 'lynchpin' that will promote future the growth of the club. He states:
"Yeovil Town FC is an important economic driver in the South West region and is embarking on this project to ensure that it has the resources and supporters facilities on site to continue to compete in the Football League. We have entered this joint venture to ensure that Yeovil Town FC remains at the heart of our town and county. By developing the area around Huish Park we have the opportunity to bring in much needed investment to the club and the area.
Without this investment there is a high chance that we won’t meet the Football Leagues future demands for stadium improvements, which will mean that we may not be able to stay in the League. The football club is urging supporters, local people and business owners to get behind the proposed developments to ensure that the club has a bright future. If this proposal is given the go ahead by the council we can deliver a great new leisure, sports and retail environment on site at Huish Park."
A few words of caution - firstly the formal planning process - as Bristol City are finding - can be a lengthy, laborious and costly process. The club will need to answer to any concerns from local businesses and residents in the area. In addition, our understanding is also that the club or CDS (via Chris Dawson) would need to apply for a 'Change of Use' for the land that currently houses the training pitches. Bearing in mind how long it took for the home terrace stand to be covered this is a plan that may take a number of years to be executed.
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