Published 15th July 2011
...immediately being there.
As Brighton & Hove Albion prepares for its first game on Saturday in its new American Express Community Stadium, Brighton & Hove City Council is set to approve a raft of changes to the club’s former home.
Planners state the alterations, which include keeping two stands as well as a 100 space car park, will enhance “one of the city’s major sporting venues”. But one of its major tenants, Ryman League Division One South club Whitehawk, will not be moving the stadium for another tweve months.
Mark Turner, the club’s regeneration director, said: “We had an arrangement with the council that Whitehawk would go to Withdean for two seasons.
“But once that was agreed we had a problem with the Ryman League.
“We then agreed with the league that all the ground improvements at their current The Enclosed Ground home would be done in one season.
“We intend to get everything in writing with the Ryman League and will move in there at Withdean for the 2012/13 season.
“The council is fully aware of our problems.”
The Withdean Stadium was home to the Seagulls from 1999 to this summer. It shared the facilities with three athletics clubs – Brighton & Hove, Phoenix & Arena 80.
The local authority has submitted the application to allow Whitehawk and Brighton’s reserve and womens` team to play their games at the stadium.
The plans to permanently retain the 900-seat west stand and two turnstiles alongside the permanent 1,300 north stand have been recommended for approval by the council’s planning team.
A decision on the proposal, which includes retaining the players’ lounge and changing rooms for a period of three years, will be made by the local authority’s cross-party planning committee.
Ward councillor Ann Norman said she wanted to speak to her residents about the decision to retain the west stand.
She said: “What we want is to get it back to amateur sport.
“Athletics has suffered in the past 12 years.
“There is a history at the stadium. Steve Ovett and Sally Gunnell have trained there.
“Prior to the temporary seating that was put in it was very quiet and it is quite a rural area in an urban surrounding.
“I think the residents of Shepherds Croft particularly have been inconvenienced.”