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Cray Wanderers FC fail with Sandy Lane stadium bid
COUNCILLORS unanimously rejected Cray Wanderers FC’s new stadium plans at a planning meeting on Thursday (20).
The second oldest football club in the world had been hoping to move back to its spiritual home in St Paul’s Cray by building a 5,153-seat stadium in Sandy Lane with 182 homes.
A disappointed Cray Wanderers chairman Gary Hillman spoke to News Shopper after the meeting.
He said: "The council does not understand football.
"We have not had any communication with them telling us what they want."
Bromley Council threw out the plans for a number of reasons including the fact the proposed site is on green belt land and is next to a "site of special scientific interest".
Ecological and nature conservation measures outline there should be a buffer zone between the development footprint and the boundary of Ruxley gravel pits - a registered SSSI.
These old gravel workings are an oasis for wildlife from encroaching industrial, housing and road development.
Councillors also deemed a 5,000 plus seat stadium unnecessarily large for a club in the seventh tier of English football - the Ryman Isthmian Premier League.
But Mr Hillman claims that if the club had proposed a smaller stadium, councillors would have still had issues with the site.
He said: "Whether it is a 500 seater stadium, 2,000 or a 3,000 it does not make any difference you still need changing rooms, showers and everything else a football stadium needs.
"And would you call that site one of outstanding natural beauty?"
Meanwhile, Councillor Peter Fortune said 90 per cent of the responses he received opposed the plans because of the idea of more development on green belt land.
He added: "The response of local residents has instructed us to say that we have to reject this plan."
Cllr Fookes admitted if the stadium had been of a smaller size he may have voted differently.
Chairman of development control, Cllr Peter Dean, shared the view that despite the emotional attachment which many of the councillors had with the club, he could not see the past the fact it would have been a Green Belt development.
He said: "While we recognise that this was an application with great public interest, it simply did not demonstrate the exceptional circumstances needed to grant permission to build on Green Belt land."
Mr Hillman says he will consider his next move soon.