Brighton given go ahead to expand Amex Stadium

Posted On 25 Apr 2012 at 5:37 pm

Brighton and Hove Albion have been granted planning permission to add 8,250 seats to the Amex Community Stadium.

But they can use only 6,005 of them next season as travel, transport and parking arrangements are monitored.

Martin Perry, who is heading the expansion of the Falmer stadium for the club, said that work would start on the £13 million scheme as soon as possible lifting the capacity from 22,500 to 30,750.

He told Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee that the club had injected £24 million into the local economy this season and supported 1,000 jobs – almost all local.

And he said that he was working to address parking concerns in Coldean in particular and in Moulsecoomb.

People living in both areas will be consulted on the possibility of a controlled parking zone being introduced for match days and when other special events are held. If a scheme is introduced, the club will fund it.

Mr Perry said: “We have a full-time member of staff who is dedicated to transport issues.

“We as a football club are determined to be good neighbours.

“We are looking forward to a great future in this city. We have put pride back in the city. And we have put a spring in the step of the city.

“The club will fund work on one of the railway platforms at Falmer so that longer trains can stop at the station. This is intended to increase the number of fans who can travel to matches by train.

It will also increase the number who can arrive and leave at any one time and should speed up the journey home for fans after games.

Extra parking for 680 cars was also agreed this afternoon. The car park will be built on the nearby Falmer High School site in Lucraft Road, next to the new Brighton Aldridge Community Academy.

Councillor Les Hamilton, a former Labour chairman of the planning committee, expressed concerns that much of the parking used by fans had only temporary planning permission.

Mr Perry said that he hoped to make greater use of park and ride and had a new site in mind, outside Brighton and Hove.

Councillor Christopher Hawtree suggested that more should be done to encourage fans to cycle to the ground. He said: “It’s a paradox that people go by transport to watch other people exercise.”

After councillors unanimously approved the application, Mr Perry said: “Obviously we’re delighted that the council has supported us unanimously.

“It’s an endorsement of the all the work we’ve put in and we now look forward to even more success and closer links with the local community.

“I’m pleased that the committee recognises the significant economic and community benefits tht the stadium has brought and will continue to deliver for the city.”

He earlier told the committee that 607,000 people had visited the stadium during the 30 home matches this season. Many of them were repeat visits.

He said that the stadium and the club had spread the benefits of their success to many other local companies and he cited two examples – Piglet Pies and Harveys beer.

He said: “We’ve sold 232,000 pies this season and 150,000 pints of Harveys. In terms of publicity we’ve generated an estimated £10 million, and 50,000 people have taken part in activities organised by Albion in the Community.”

He added that the stadium expansion would create 430 jobs, 200 of them during the construction phase. The stadium would employ 130 extra people and the extra capacity would create 100 indirect jobs – with suppliers, for example.

Thirty three people sent in letters of objection, 156 people wrote in with comments and 2,908 wrote letters of support.

Mr Perry also said that most fans travelled to matches by sustainable transport and that the reintroduction of travel vouchers next season would boost the figure.

Two Labour members of the council addressed the planning committee on behalf of people living in their wards.

Councillor Jeane Lepper spoke for residents in Coldean in her Hollingdean and Stanmer ward. And Councillor Mo Marsh spoke for people in her Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward.

Both applauded the club’s success and said that they were not opposed to the application.

Councillor Lepper said: “I’d like to pay tribute to the Albion for trying to sort out this problem.

“Coldean has a lot of pressure on parking including from student.

“Some of the parking is illegal but a lot of it is just plain inconsiderate.

“On match days it’s bedlam. People can’t get to their homes or when they are there they can’t get out.

“Tempers have become frayed.

“The 24 bus has been unable to get through and has had to be rerouted so people have been further cut off.

“The majority of people in Coldean are Albion fans and wish the club every success. They just don’t want to become victims of their success.”

Councillor Marsh said that she welcomed the local employment opportunities and the club’s success in general.

And she praised the Sussex Police neighbourhood police inspector Bill Whitehead. She added that the parking problems were so bad that during one match Inspector Whitehead alone had issued 30 tickets.

Mr Perry expressed confidence that the new arrangements would bring improvements.

 

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