The redevelopment of Exeter City’s St James Park, approved by Exeter City Council, is set to be challenged by local community group St James Forum in court.
A dual partnership between the Grecians and a commercial property company had been given the go-ahead to demolition and rebuild the Well Street Stand, as well as ‘enhancements’ to other areas of the stadium. Planning application for which had been granted by the local Council as well as – most critically from a financial perspective – the construction of student housing, enough accomodation for 320 students.
St James Forum are against the development noting their aim to uphold ‘the protection of the community from the increasing social imbalance caused by an ever-growing student population’, setting in motion legal proceedings against Exeter City Council and thus Exeter City.
A decision Grecians chairman Julian Tagg slammed as ‘reckless’ and ‘destructive’ to the community, with the Forum seeming to take particular dispute with the Council in discussions he had participated in.
“Our efforts to work with the Forum and find a compromise have been thrown back in our face by what appears to be a minority of individuals who, rather than engage in sensible and amicable discussion seem to be hell – bent on having a confrontation with the City Council with the future of the Football Club as potential collateral damage,” said Tagg in a club statement.
“We know from various conversations that have taken place that at least three members of the Forum’s Planning & Design Panel have not been involved in the decisions over this legal action because they oppose it. We believe this action is reckless, destructive, without any proper foundation and detrimental to the interests of the Forum, the City Council and the Football Club.
“The Football Club urges all members of the Forum, the constituent Residents’ Associations, and residents of St James to consider very carefully and perhaps to question the Forum on what is being done in their name.’’
The redevelopment is a key source of income for club owners Exeter City Supporters’ Trust who have since 2000 injected £1.75m into the Devon club.