York City hope to be in new stadium for the start of next season – as Bootham Crescent housing plan is approved

Plans for 93 homes to be built on Bootham Crescent football ground will go ahead once York City Football Club moves to the new community stadium.

Persimmon Homes’ scheme was approved by City of York Council last night (Wednesday) – and councillors heard the development could be held up as an example of how to redevelop historic venues.

Historic England have worked with York City Football Club to ensure plans honour the heritage of the site.

The scheme includes a memorial garden, plans to recreate the pitch’s existing centre circle and to install a flagpole at the entrance to the open space at the heart of the development.

A section of terrace and tunnel will also be kept and there are plans to re-create the ground virtually using an app.

Time to move

Speaking after the meeting, Ian McAndrew, development director at the football club, said: “It is good news for the club that the planning application has been approved.

“After being a baseball pitch, cricket ground and a football ground, Bootham Crescent will now start another new chapter as a prime location for city centre homes.

“It is time for the club to move to a new stadium which is better equipped to allow the club to grow, with excellent facilities for fans, staff and the team.

“The club will continue to work closely with Persimmon Homes and Historic England to ensure that the history of Bootham Crescent as a football ground is represented at the new housing site.”

Test events at new ground

Mr McAndrew told the planning meeting: “We have worked closely with the council in terms of relocation to the community stadium.

“We are hoping we will be able to start our new season in the stadium if it can be certified, bearing in mind the current crisis – I think it needs 4,000 people in there [for test events].

“Persimmon Homes can only exercise their right to buy the site once the certification takes place on the new stadium.”

He also told planners: “We as a club are fully supportive of the application.

“The most important thing that we have is the work with Historic England on the memorial area.”

The club said that particular care and attention will be given to retrieving and relocating ashes and caskets which are currently located within the ground.

Families are welcome to contact the club if they would like more information.

Emotional history

Photograph: Richard McDougall

Paul Butler, agent for the applicant, said the developers “know and understand the emotional history of the site and what it means to fans, their families and the wider city”.

He added: “We think the proposals will be utilised by Historic England in the future as an exemplary case study for similar future projects because of the detailed work that’s taken place.

“The design is focused on celebrating and safeguarding the site’s history.

“It will also deliver much needed homes for the city.”

Cllr Martin Rowley asked for careful consideration could be given to any ashes discovered at the site and if the council could confirm if the ground was consecrated.

And Cllr Pete Kilbane requested that that people taking on affordable homes will not be charged high management fees – 20 per cent of new homes on the site are set to be affordable.

Cllr James Barker said: “My concern is the density of housing – it’s not a big area for 93 homes. I think there could be problems there, further down the line.”

But Cllr Tony Fisher said: “I think they have made a good effort to retain the history of the football club and I think this is quite a good scheme. It’s not perfect but it’s good.”

The planning application was approved by a majority vote.

A York City spokeswoman said: “Although much beloved, Bootham Crescent cannot be the long term home of York City Football Club.

“In 2004, Chairman Jason McGill successfully negotiated to buy back Bootham Crescent, after it was sold by previous Chairman Douglas Craig, with a condition that the club would move to a new stadium within an agreed timeframe.”