Solihull Moors stadium expansion set for approval - despite green belt concerns - The Solihull Observer

Solihull Moors stadium expansion set for approval - despite green belt concerns

Solihull Editorial 1st Aug, 2019 Updated: 2nd Aug, 2019   0

SOLIHULL MOORS Football Club’s stadium expansion is being recommended for planning approval with the club on the hunt for promotion to the Football League – despite green belt concerns.

The National League club announced three phases of stadium renovations in February with works well underway.

The ambitious expansion is required to satisfy English Football League (EFL) requirements if the club secures promotion, having narrowly missed out last season.

Plans are recommended by council officers for retrospective approval at a Solihull Council planning committee meeting of councillors next Wednesday (August 7).

The club is seeking permission for four replacement covered spectator stands, three new temporary toilet blocks and a new fans’ compound around the new stands.

It is set for approval despite the plans representing inappropriate development on the green belt.

The club claims the ‘very special circumstances’ required to satisfy overriding national and local green belt policies exist in this case.

An officer’s report prepared for the meeting accepts the club’s ‘very special circumstances’ justification because ground improvements will increase safety and improve the welfare of the club’s spectators – while also allowing passage to the EFL.

The EFL requires the club – formed in 2007 following a merger between Solihull Borough and Moor Green – to update stadium capacity to beyond 4,000 seats, introduce covered seating and revamp facilities to permit promotion.

This is set out under the Sports Ground Safety Authority’s requirements – which licenses all 92 EFL grounds.

Councillors will decide whether to vote for their officers’ recommendations, or reject them. There is also the potential for Moors to appeal to the Secretary of State against any local refusal.

The ambitious expansion is scheduled to be completed by July next year.

Plans will see the club’s 3,000-capacity Damson Park home ground – now known as the Automated Technology Group Stadium – increased to accommodate more than 5,400 spectators.

The report’s conclusions states the impact to green belt land is limited, while the size and design is permissible.

It says the new compound enclosure also satisfies health and safety requirements.

It adds that there is also no great impact on highways, or any other services, caused by the proposed development.

Moors, managed by former England goalkeeper Tim Flowers, originally from Kenilworth, fell to defeat in the play-offs of the National League last year despite finishing in second place, only three points off promoted side Leyton Orient.

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