Club's finance woes leave stadium plan in disarray
Plans for a new stadium for Cornwall have been thrown into confusion after the development consortium announced the project would go ahead without tenants Truro City football club.
The setback comes just weeks after an outline planning application for the £24 million, 10,000-seater scheme was approved by Cornwall Council.
Developers Inox hope to build 1,500 new homes, a restaurant, school, retail and workspace on the outskirts of Truro at Langarth Farm, Threemilestone. But the project hinges on basing the two most ambitious sports outfits in the county – the Cornish Pirates rugby team and Truro City – at one stadium, then generating extra revenue from music concerts and other events.
Cornwall Council has extended the timetable in a "thorough" review of the "viability of the project".
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The delay is due to financial problems at Truro City as well as further work that is needed on transport and drainage issues. It means the Cornish Pirates are unlikely to meet a Rugby Football Union deadline in March, thereby ending their hopes to play in the new stadium during the 2012/13 season.
Cornish Pirates chairman Dickie Evans said he was "dismayed" at the delay.
"I am dismayed that factors outside our control mean that the agreed business plan cannot be achieved," he said.
"Personally I am distraught and I feel extremely sad that so many good people who have put in so much effort have to handle this news.
"Without doubt this will greatly affect our plans and I will now take stock over the next week with the key club management staff and the playing force to review options for the future of the Cornish Pirates."
With Truro City facing a high court winding-up order over unpaid taxes next month, Cornwall Council says they are not able to contribute to the stadium.
"Unfortunately, Truro City Football Club are not currently in a position to commit to the project, but discussions continue and the impact on the business plan is being considered," the council said.
Truro chairman Kevin Heaney told the BBC that he expected his club to sign up to the stadium project by the end of the week.
He says he is waiting for a developer to commit to building a new retail park on the site of the club's current Treyew Road ground, a deal he expects will be done on Friday.
"Once that is signed it allows us to sign for the stadium," Heaney said. "We will be 100 per cent committed if our partner signs up.
"If we get a retail development partner for Treyew Road it's an income for life for the club. It allows us to be a viable tenant and allows us to sign up for the stadium."
The Pirates' current home at the Mennaye Field in Penzance does not meet Premiership criteria, which requires a 10,000 capacity.
The Pirates had hoped to share Home Park with Plymouth Argyle for part of next season should they get promoted to the Premiership.