Stadium plan 'can still be rescued'

PLANS to build a community stadium in Colchester could still be rescued despite their being given a “red light” by an independent advisory body, it has been claimed.

By Roddy Ashworth

PLANS to build a community stadium in Colchester could still be rescued despite their being given a “red light” by an independent advisory body, it has been claimed.

And now Colchester Borough Council is preparing to spend a further £150,000 in trying to produce a concrete economic impact assessment and business case for the project.

The council has already invested £290,000 in pursuing its objective of building the stadium as part of the regeneration of the northern area of Colchester.


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But a Gateway Review carried out into the stadium proposals, which would provide a new home for Colchester United, concluded that before they go any further key tasks should be undertaken.

These included producing a solid business plan, appointing project managers and the creation of a shadow management board with clearly defined roles.

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The review noted that there were differing opinions between the main partners - including Colchester United and the borough council - about who would run the stadium, how risk would be managed and how profit or loss would be dealt with.

Gateway Reviews can give three results: a green light, which means the project can proceed, an amber light which means the project can continue with some retrospective work and a red light, which means the project should not go forward to the next stage until specific targets are met.

Colchester United were recently promoted to the Championship League but still play in out-dated facilities at Layer Road.

The club is desperate for a new stadium but cannot afford one. The local council, however, has developed a scheme that would produce a brand new “community stadium” in north Colchester where the team could play.

But in order to fund the scheme, the council will need to borrow around £11million and before it can do this it has to demonstrate the project makes economic sense for all local taxpayers.

According to the Gateway Review, conducted by independent Government assessors 4ps, more work needs to be done by the partners involved.

Last night council leader Robert Davidson, said: “We have got so far in this I am prepared to invest this final tranche of money - about £150,000 - to evaluate and bottom out the decision as to whether the stadium is do-able within the business plan.

“If it is good for Colchester we would be prepared to borrow the millions of pounds needed to fund it, but only if it represents a fair and good deal for local council tax-payers.

“However, more work needs doing before we can go through to the next stage.

“We want to get the business case together, get the tenders back, work out how much it will cost and then go to a full council meeting to discuss it.”

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