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Wrexham renew bid to boost capacity of Kop stand

10 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Wrexham AFC Racecourse Ground Kop plans. Source – planning documents

Rory Sheehan, local democracy reporter

Wrexham AFC has renewed its bid to remove a planning condition limiting the capacity of the new Kop stand.

A fresh application has been sent to Wrexham Council’s planning department seeking a variation to the planning conditions which currently limit the planned 5,500 seat stand for the Racecourse Ground stadium to a capacity of 4,900.

The condition was put in place until the impact of potential river pollution had been accurately quantified.

This concern centres around potential increases in phosphate concentrations – which can cause water pollution – in the country’s rivers.

Application refusal

A few months ago the Five Fords Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTF) in Wrexham was issued with a permit by Natural Resources Wales enabling it to deal with phosphates, and this formed the basis of the club’s application to remove the capacity-restricting condition

Earlier this week a previous application submitted by the club last month was refused by the council on a technicality.

Explaining the reason for that refusal, a spokesperson for Wrexham Council said: “The Club is seeking to remove a condition imposed on the original planning permission for the stand which currently restricts capacity to 4,900 rather than the full 5,500 capacity due to limitations caused by an issue relating to foul drainage and phosphate levels at the time.

“Unfortunately, the type of application that was submitted was not suitable for removing this planning condition and the Football Club’s Planning Consultant has been advised how to resolve this.

“Subject to the views of Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales, the Council looks forward to resolving this matter in a timely manner when an amended application is submitted.”

New Stand

That previous application was for a non-material amendment to the planning permission the club has for the construction of the new stand, which was granted last year.

This new application is for a “relaxation of condition 3, to remove occupancy relating to the concourse/exhibition space”.

A covering letter sent with the previous application by Portia Banwell of Savills, on behalf of the club, has also been resubmitted, outlining the case for removing the condition.

It says: “It is clear that use of the Kop Stand at its full capacity is supported, subject to addressing the matters raised by Welsh Water.

“It is timely to remove this condition because the Five Fords Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) has been granted a permit by NRW. This means there is existing capacity with the WWTF.

“This means that the Racecourse Ground’s redeveloped Kop Stand will be able to hold the 5,500 spectators that it has been designed and approved for.”

It adds: “It is acknowledged that the previous capacity of the Kop Stand was evidenced at 4,900, so the restrictions only related to the net increase of 600. This would only apply to event days, and clearly would only relate to part of those days (i.e. short time before, then during and then shortly after an event).

“The Kop stand is also identified for ‘home’ supporters, a large proportion of whom are from the local area (and thus already in the catchment).

“In these circumstances it is clear that the actual impact is extremely low, and the restriction was imposed largely as a general embargo approach as opposed to identified concerns with the Kop Stand per se.

“Nevertheless, given the changes to the permitting then securing the removal of the restrictive condition to allow full capacity occupation is timely.”

Wrexham Council planners will make a decision on the fresh application in due course.

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