Plans for a new stadium for Woking FC along with more than 1,000 flats have been dismissed at appeal.
A planning application for the development of both the current council-owned stadium at Kingfield and the neighbouring David Lloyd fitness centre, which included a 9,026-capacity stadium and 1,048 flats (468 of them affordable), was rejected by Woking Borough Council in June 2020.
The scheme had been put forward by the club and developer GolDev but relations between the two parties deteriorated during the process and the club withdrew its support for the scheme at that point. However, GolDev took it to appeal without the club’s involvement.
On Tuesday December 14, the plan, along with a related application to relocate the leisure club along with 36 homes, was turned down by planning inspector David Wildsmith following a hearing in Spring.
Only a Hight Court application could now save the scheme.
The inspector’s decision is the latest event in a long-running saga between the club, the developer and the council. Along the way:
An investigation was held into the council’s conduct which found a £250 million loan was offered to the developer without a guarantor.
A controversy blew up over a drone being flown over the site during lockdown.
An inspector’s report suggested the number of homes the site could accommodate was just 93.
Club chairman Rosemary Johnson told Thames Tap the club now wanted to rebuild its relationships with its neighbours which suffered during the planning process. The club has been raising funds, supporting foodbanks and giving Christmas gifts to families in recent months.
She said the 93-home scheme, which would occupy land to the west of the current ground, is a more likely option.
But she added: “At the moment we just need to get ourselves more grounded and think sensibly about where we are going.”
Mrs Johnson said development on the west side of the ground could also mean some improved facilities for the club.
In a statement issued after the decision, Woking Borough Council’s chief executive, said: “I know that many residents, who campaigned passionately against the development proposals submitted by GolDev, will be relieved by this decision.
“Without planning permission, it means that all financial and development agreements entered into between GolDev and Woking Borough Council shall be brought to an end.”
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