Sixfields Development – Good News
First published 678 days ago
It is over eight years ago that the redevelopment of the Sixfields Stadium was stopped in its tracks because of the threat of a ‘judicial review’ and objections from other businesses about the retail element of the proposals.
As those who have followed the issue for some time will know it cost the then Conservative Leader of the Borough Council his job and his replacement had to face a barrage of damaging abuse which contributed to a failure to win the 2007 election.
For the next four years the Borough Council administration simply pulled up the drawbridge and refused to succumb to the pressure from the football club, supporters and opposition preferring instead to adopt a siege mentality of “we know what is best”.
In promising when I met with the owner of the football club in the week following the 2011 election that we would do everything possible to support the clubs ambitions it was in the knowledge that I had the support of the main political parties in the Guildhall.
It has taken some time, in fact far too long which is why the announcement of an agreed £12 million loan to develop the stadium is good news for the football club and supporters.
One of the stumbling blocks may well have been that any challenge may have centred around the existing £-7.5m met worth that the football club has and the auditor report for the past two years which said that,
“The audit report states that there is uncertainty concerning the company being a ‘going concern’.”
With the argument that why should taxpayers money be spent on paying off existing debts?
It is why I was delighted in the answers I received from Cllr Tim Hadland the Cabinet Member responsible for the Sixfields project at the recent Borough Council meeting when he assured us that the whole of the £12 million would be spent on the stadium redevelopment.
It was also reassuring that Cllr Hadland was very clear that Legal and General wouldn’t find any objection to the retail element of the proposed Sixfields redevelopment having presumably discussed it with them at their fortnightly Leader – Legal and General meetings.
Whether another organisation objects we will have to wait and see but with the football club being responsible for its existing debt I’m uncertain as to what grounds an objection would be based.
What we all want to see of course is for the Cobblers to picking up points and escaping the Division Two Relegation zone with the impact of dropping into the Conference being unthinkable not only on the football club but also the wider economy.
The added bonus of the Cobblers development proposals will also be the 100 affordable homes that will be delivered as part of the wider development of the area at a time when all political parties recognise and support the need for more homes.
It will be interesting to see the detailed plans and confirmation that the whole support package is finally in place.