Delays could threaten Us stadium

THE chairman of Colchester United has warned that offers of funding for a new stadium will collapse if the plans are not approved soon.Peter Heard said yesterday the Football Foundation had told him £2 million earmarked for the club's new stadium at Cuckoo Farm would not be available indefinitely.

THE chairman of Colchester United has warned that offers of funding for a new stadium will collapse if the plans are not approved soon.

Peter Heard said yesterday the Football Foundation had told him £2 million earmarked for the club's new stadium at Cuckoo Farm would not be available indefinitely.

Plans for a multi-million pound community stadium to replace the existing dilapidated and outdated ground at Layer Road are part of the Colchester Borough Council's plans for north Colchester, which also include a new A12 junction and housing.

The proposals have been on the drawing board for over six years. In July 2003 the council said it was "minded" to grant planning consent for the new stadium but the plans would have to go to the Deputy Prime Minister's office since part of the development was on council-owned land.


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But 14 months later the plans have still not been finalised and the new council leader, John Jowers, has suggested the club looks at alternative venues.

Yesterday Mr Heard said: "The Football Foundation are telling me: 'We can't leave this (£2 million) in the flap of a file indefinitely'."

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He added: "We were waiting for the plans to go to the Deputy Prime Minister and here we are 14 months after that was said and now it appears they want to look at alternatives."

He urged the council to pull out all the stops and speed up the Cuckoo Farm planning application.

"I'm most anxious Colchester Borough Council will get on and put this application into the Deputy Prime Minister's office but I can't make them do it.

"We are putting sticking plasters on Layer Road, there's no car parking and it's outdated."

But Mr Jowers said: "I've no problem with Cuckoo Farm as a site. The problem is that most issues holding it up are outside our control.

"What I'm saying is is it worth looking laterally? Is there a quicker, easier way of achieving what they want?"

Mr Jowers stressed: "There is a commitment by the council to provide a community stadium."

He asked Mr Heard what he thought about alternative locations when he attended the Swindon Town match last weekend.

He then told a council meeting earlier this week he did not see any harm in club officials and council officers making enquiries into alternative venues.

Currently, grants of up to £2 million are available to any League One club building a new stadium from the Football Foundation, once they have planning consent.

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