Newcastle Council have pushed ahead with the decision to sell land at Gallowgate which will help end any chance of future stadium expansion at St. James’ Park.
Councillors on the scrutiny committee had called in the proposals due to concerns but at a meeting on Tuesday the council reaffirmed the decision to sell council owned land which will raise £800,000.
The strip of land is part of the area opposite St. James’ Park and the intention is to build student accommodation, apartments and shops on the area opposite the Gallowgate End. The majority of the land needed is currently leased by Mike Ashley following his deal when he bought the football club in 2007, and he will be the main beneficiary if the development goes ahead.
If the full development happens then it takes any chance away of extending St. James’ Park, where work on the Gallowgate End could take the capacity up to around the 60,000 mark.
With Newcastle getting 50,000 crowds consistently despite the poor football and depression surrounding Mike Ashley’s ownership of the club, it isn’t difficult to see that with a little bit of ambition, a 60,000 capacity could easily be filled.
It is especially disappointing when this move comes at a time when numerous other Premier League clubs including Spurs, West Ham, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City, are all in the process of extending their current grounds or planning new stadiums with bigger capacities.
Opposing the move, Councillor Greg Stone described yesterday’s meeting as ‘deeply unsatisfactory’ and commented:
“We have not had information about the club and what it means on the development of the stadium. We have not had an answer from the officers on what is the process for planning and development briefs.”
However, from the ruling Labour group, Councillor Ged Bell:
“I want the public to know we have assets in the city and we are trying our best to make the best of the land that we have available within the city. We’ll continue to do that in a transparent way. I feel that the right decision has been made with the limited land available on the site and I’m confident it is the best decision for the city.”