Trafford Council spent more than £160,000 of public money on controversial plans to build a football training ground and new facilities on Turn Moss in Stretford, before scrapping the proposals in May, according to a Freedom of Information request.
The plans, which attracted a record number of objections from the public, were pulled by Trafford Council leader Cllr Andrew Western on his first day in office following local elections last May.
The Council’s previous Conservative administration had supported the plans to bring forward a training ground for Salford City FC, including four training pitches, an office, and a gym converted from an existing storage facility.
There were also proposals for a new floodlit pitch for public use alongside a café, children’s play area, and changing facilities. The plans were being brought forward in partnership with Gary Neville’s UA92.
These proposals were objected to by Trafford’s Labour, Lib Dem, and Green groups, and a consultation on the plans had to be extended after more than 1,800 local residents and campaigners signalled their opposition.
A Freedom of Information request by Place North West has revealed the council spent more than £160,000 on professional fees on the project before it was scrapped.
The council paid 26 consultants a total of £162,306 for their role on the development, including project manager Zerum, planner How, M&E consultant Charles Andrews, transport planner Vectos, and landscape architect Re-form.
Typical procurement routes and public contract regulations were not applied to these professional roles, meaning they did not have to be advertised publically via normal channels including OJEU and The Chest. However, they were procured in accordance with the council’s constitution.
If the plans had gone ahead, the works were estimated to cost the council around £2.5m, up from an initial estimate of £1.5m.
Last May, campaign group Friends of Turn Moss committee member Nixon Tod welcomed Western’s move to pull the plans, stating: “We believe it’s the correct decision to withdraw the flawed plans. The drainage strategy would have been a disaster for the grassroots teams, it’s a real victory for local people.
“There is funding out there to improve Turn Moss for everyone, better facilities for the footballers is a priority, it needs to stay green belt and free for all to use.”
Western has since pledged to bring forward a “community-led” proposal on the site, although details of this have yet to be revealed.
A spokesman for Trafford Council said: “The Council is in positive communications with the Friends of Turn Moss over future plans for the site. We will be in a position to release more information in the near future.”