'No secrets' says Terras chief
By Adam Summers
Thursday 28th August 2008
WEYMOUTH Football Club chairman Malcolm Curtis has insisted
there are no 'hidden secrets' in his plans to build the club's
new ground off Monmouth Avenue.
The property developer also made it clear when unveiling
the vision document at the Wessex Stadium yesterday that his
bold proposal for a Community Sports Stadium will only go
ahead if the town supports the idea.
The arena, which will be positioned between Weymouth Rugby
Club and the planned park and ride facility, will include
five-a-side pitches, a training pitch, eight corporate boxes,
a community hall, a social bar, a creche, a cafe and a club
shop, and will cost between £7-£10million.
The eco-friendly plans also include a nature trail and a
new clubhouse for Weymouth Rugby Club but the stadium's capacity
will not be any higher than the current ground and has been
estimated at between 4,500 and 6,000 depending on Football
League guidelines on seating.
Mr Curtis' aim is to deliver the stadium by the spring of
2012 in the build-up to the London Olympics when Weymouth
and Portland will host sailing events.
Other sites were also considered, including the Marsh, Curtis
Fields and Redlands, but Mr Curtis is happy with the final
He said: "For me Weymouth Rugby Club was the least favourite
site when we started because there were a lot of things we had
to overcome but I think we have done that to a certain degree
although there is still a long way to go.
"From a transport perspective it was the favoured one
due to the park and ride for in excess of 1,000 cars that
already has planning consent. "And contrary to reports
there will be no access to the stadium from Monmouth Avenue.
"The pitch itself will be one-and-a-half metres to two
metres below ground level so the three-storey main stand,
which will include a basement level, will look no higher than
a chalet bungalow from the outside.
"It will also have a grass roof and will be eco-friendly,
and will be accessible from Lodmoor Country Park along a new
trail that will also be developed. From the proposed relief
road it will hardly be seen and it will be totally enclosed
ensuring both sound and light does not escape, and there is
a good atmosphere.
"As well as five-a-side pitches and a training pitch,
within the stadium itself there will also be a cafe, a creche,
a gymnasium, a social bar, and conference, seminar and function
rooms ensuring that people use the club seven days a week
and not just on a match day.
"That is what is going to need to happen to make it
sustainable and that is why we need the whole community to
get behind it. If they do not, then believe me it will not
happen. This is not something that will just be pushed through
like the Pavilion.
"That is why we have come up with a vision document
for debate and discussion. And this is not the finished article
either. There are still a lot of things to be considered,
but hopefully people will see the positives in it and not
just the negatives."
The new stadium is not dependent on the planned Weymouth
Relief Road but it will need funding from the sale of the
Wessex Stadium site.
Mr Curtis added: "If the road does not get built it
would not be the end of the world. The park and ride has consent
and is very much a part of the plans for 2012, so by hook
or by crook no matter what happens, it will still be there.
"As for the cost, it will take £7-10 million to
deliver. There are grants available from the likes of the
Football Foundation and Sport England but they are only estimated
at around £1.5m. That leaves us with a minimum of £8m
"The only way we can achieve that is by developing the
current site. We have held talks with the Jersey Trust about
the land adjacent to us behind the police station and with
that and the 11 acres we have, which includes the bungalow
that we own, it would take it up to around 25 acres.
"We need to find a way to get the budget required for
the new stadium out of this site but what goes on here is
not clear at the moment. A supermarket is a possibility but
the authorities are also looking for brown field sites to
develop for housing.
"To be honest, I think it will be a mixed-use site with
business units, possibly some retail and some housing as well.
"If something is left at the end of it then there might
be some pennies left for me but my only driver is to deliver
that new stadium and if people get behind it and support it,
we would be looking to submit an application next spring."
Mr Curtis has held talks with English Nature, Dorset Wildlife
Trust, the RSPB, Weymouth Rugby Club, Dorset County Council,
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and West Dorset District
Council, and admits some people are still undecided.
He said: "We have held talks with Weymouth and Portland
Borough Council and they are indifferent. They are sitting
on the fence as to whether they are for it or not and from
a planning perspective we might have a difficult road. That
is another reason why we, as a community, must give them every
reason to be for it.
"I have also met with the rugby club and I suggest they
have everything to gain from this and nothing to lose, but
they might not think that. We will have to wait and see.
"All I will say is that there is always a reason for
why not but in this case there are also a lot of reasons for
why. It is up to people to decide."