Maze Planning Solutions has set out proposals for the future of the former Rossendale United ground at Dark Lane, Newchurch, on behalf of the owner, Andrew Connolly.
The site is to be regenerated to provide family homes and to provide a financial boost to local sport and recreation facilities.
Rossendale United ceased to be an active football club at the end of the 2009/2010 football season. Significant debts had built up and there was no way of balancing the books.
The club's former base at Dark Lane in the Newchurch area of Rossendale has become a target for vandalism and anti-social behaviour since it closed. On the evening of 15 January this year an arson attack led to a fire that devastated the main stand.
It has become increasingly urgent and important to identify a positive future for the Dark Lane ground to prevent it being becoming a serious blight on the local community, and to remove the risks and dangers of a repeat of the recent fire.
There is an opportunity to create something good from the demise of the football club. Dark Lane has the potential to accommodate a development of family homes which would give a much needed boost to local housing supply.
Creating value through redevelopment of the site will also enable the former club's debts, which are mainly to HM Revenue & Customs, to be repaid and has the potential to create a surplus, which can be directed to sport and recreation activities in the borough.
Before any formal planning application is made Maze Planning Solutions is conducting a period of public consultation. During February and early March details of the development will be available to view on the internet and at Rawtenstall Library. There will be an open day at the Dark Lane Social Club where the development design team will be available to explain the development and answer questions.
Andrew Watt, partner at Maze Planning Solutions, said: "The loss of a long-standing football Club like Rossendale United is always a sad event. Regrettably it's a reflection of the continuing polarisation of football wealth, which has seen the Premier League clubs grow richer, whilst those in lower leagues struggle to survive in the absence of lucrative sponsorship deals, income from television rights and wealthy benefactors. Critically for Rossendale United, there just weren't sufficient numbers of supporters coming in through the turnstiles every week to support the club.
"We've been in discussion about the future of the ground for several months, both with the owner, Andrew Connolly, and officers of Rossendale Borough Council. The recent devastating fire was the final straw. It has underlined the need for us to pick up the pace and establish a future for the site as soon as possible.
"We need to build more and better quality homes in our country for the next generation, and those homes need to be of a high environmental standard to help cut carbon emissions. The land at Dark Lane is well placed to deliver those objectives. It is situated in an established residential area and could be a great location for new family housing.
"We're asking for feedback on the proposed development. As it stands we think the site can accommodate about 50 family homes providing a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bed accommodation with gardens and parking. The scheme that's out for consultation also includes proposals to extend and improve the footways along Dark Lane that serve St Nicholas Primary School.
"We'd like feedback from the public before we settle on a scheme and submit a planning application to Rossendale Borough Council in the spring."
The public consultation initiative announced today is comprised of:
A website www.darklanedevelopments.co.uk where details of the proposed development can viewed and downloaded, and feedback provided;
A display of plans for the proposed development at Rawtenstall Library, from 22 February to 9 March 2012, where copies of the public consultation briefing document and feedback forms will be available, together with a posting box for comments
Open day at the football Club's former social club at the Dark Lane ground in Newchurch, on Thursday 1st March, where the scheme architect, traffic and planning advisers will be available between 2pm and 8pm to answer questions. Copies of the public consultation briefing document and feedback forms will be available to take away
Copies of the public consultation briefing document and feedback forms can also be requested from, and posted back to, MAZE Planning Solutions: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0161 764 9929, MAZE Planning Solutions, 8 Wrigglesworth Close, Bury, BL8 3PB