Wakefield Council hits back in rugby league stadium dispute

Michael Carter and Chris Brereton
Michael Carter and Chris Brereton

THE row between Wakefield District Community Trust and the city council over the lack of progress in building a community stadium has escalated.

Trust member Chris Brereton claimed in The Yorkshire Post this week that the council could end up in court for failing to enforce a Section 106 agreement on the proposed 12,000-seater ground on reclassified green belt land at Newmarket, Wakefield.
The council has now issued a 1,200 word statement defending their position, responding to the criticism, insisting they were not at fault and it was the responsibility of the Trust and developer to deliver the stadium.
However, the Trust responded with an official 2,000-word statement detailing exactly why it believes the council has made crucial errors meaning not a single brick has been laid on the site five years on from a legal agreement being made.
The saga dates back to 2012 when the Secretary of State determined the green belt land could be reclassified for development, only if the developer –Yorkcourt Properties – handed 35 acres to the Community Trust and contributed £9m towards the cost of building the stadium, where Wakefield Trinity hope to be anchor tenants.
The Council accepted a ‘unilateral undertaking’ rather than ‘multi-party’ agreement that stated that if occupants are found for 60,000 sq m of space at the site, an obligation to provide the stadium is triggered. The second condition was that the council would then put £2m forwards to the project, something they say has since been withdrawn.
The council said: “Currently neither of these trigger points, which would require the stadium to be built, have been reached. It is entirely up to the developer how quickly they bring forward development, or if the development is built at all.
“Until the point that the triggers, outlined in the Unilateral Undertaking are met, the council is unable to force the developer to build a stadium.”
The Trust responded with points highlighting how it believes the council erred, particularly in allowing planning permission for a 40,000 sq m cold store facility (Newcold) on the site not to count towards the trigger point.
While demonstrating their frustration with the council’s statement, the Trust added: “If a new multi-party agreement is drawn up and signed that recognises that the floorspace of Newcold contribute towards the 60,000m2 trigger and the Council is prepared to reinstate the £2m financial contribution then this whole matter can be resolved amicably.”