Leeds United may move to power station site

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A FORMER power station and its surrounding land is set to emerge as the favourite site for a new stadium for Leeds United.

The Yorkshire Post has learned that the former Skelton Grange power station in Stourton is one of two sites under consideration, but its potential as a key regeneration site will find most encouragement from Leeds City Council.

The other possible location is a privately-owned greenfield site immediately west of the M1 extension, opposite the Thorpe Park business park at junction 46.

It is understood an area of land at Parlington, once considered a possible new home for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, is not under consideration.

Leeds United chairman Peter Ridsdale has stressed that no move away from Elland Road would be made without full consultation with supporters, shareholders and the city council. The club’s planned feasibility study will also consider redeveloping Elland Road.

Both potential sites have excellent links to the motorway network but the appeal of the greenfield site may suffer from being relatively close to a residential area at Austhorpe. Its green belt status may also place a question mark against planning permission with the possible need for a drawn-out public inquiry.

The Stourton site is heavily contaminated but it is right in the middle of one of the city’s most important regeneration areas. A key factor in its favour will be the lack of residential areas close by.

Ownership of the land is split between Kelda Group (formerly Yorkshire Water) and Innogy (formerly National Power).

The site is next to the proposed East Leeds Link Road which will link into junction 45 of the M1. The amount of toxic material in the area will cut the price of the land, but that will be offset by the potentially expensive cost of decontamination.

Preliminary talks on possible sites have taken place between Leeds United and the city council at the highest level and will continue as plans are firmed up. The Yorkshire Post understands there are unlikely to be any genuine contenders other than the Stourton and Thorpe Park sites.

Last night, city council leader, Coun Brian Walker, dismissed any suggestion that the council’s shareholding in the club would play any role in its deliberations.

“The decision whether to redevelop the Elland Road site for a new stadium or to move to a new site lies entirely with Leeds United.

“As local planning authority, the council will deal with any planning application objectively and impartially, and on planning merits.”

Leeds United will not comment on specific sites but it is understood that the area close to the M1 extension and the A1(M) is where the club’s attentions are focused.

A new stadium would cost up to 50m to build but the club would recoup the same amount from selling the naming rights for the ground to a multi-national company. It would also receive a substantial amount, possibly as much as 15m, from selling the Elland Road site.

rob.waugh@ypn.co.uk