A stadium for the people

Plans revealed for hotel, nightclub and offices ... and new stand will follow

EXCITING plans unveiled for The Falkirk Stadium could see football fans mingling with hotel guests and clubbers.

The latest development package for the community stadium includes a hotel and nightclub, as well as provision for the long-awaited east stand.

Developer Terrace Hill (Falkirk) Ltd is proposing four phases of work, consisting of four corner units, to include a hotel complex and offices, along with the seated area.

And it will bring in a windfall of almost 5 million for Falkirk Community Stadium Ltd (FCSL) through the sub-lease of the land for the buildings.

Bolton Wanderers are currently the only football club in Britain with a hotel built at its Reebok Stadium.

On Tuesday, Falkirk Council's policy and resources committee gave both landlords' and shareholders' approval to the plans.

As one of the partners in FCSL, along with the football club, its consent was needed for the proposal to progress.

The board of Falkirk FC will now be asked to rubberstamp the plans.

Welcoming the approval, FCSL's chief executive, Peter Eadie, said: "This is another step in a long journey towards the completion of The Falkirk Stadium. In partnership with Terrace Hill (Falkirk) Ltd, we are entering an exciting phase of development as envisaged by our shareholders, Falkirk Council and Falkirk FC.

"The tremendous work previously carried out will be continued to provide an impressive landmark stadium and surrounding grounds that will be a legacy for generations to come. I am pleased the council has approved this report and look forward to the next stages of the development."

Mr Eadie said the 5 million would come in phases and a decision on how it would be spent taken as each cash package arrived. However, it is understood some of the money could go towards providing the south stand.

He added that it was hoped the planning application for the first phase – the two north stand corners incorporating the hotel and offices – would be before the council before the end of the year with construction work starting soon after.

The chief executive said: "We already have conference facilities and this will be a nice add on to have rooms available.

''When we hosted the under-21 rugby internationals, there was a considerable number of visiting supporters.

''These are very exciting times. It's taken a long time to get where we are but this is not just a 'bog standard' football stadium."

A report to the policy and resources committee on the plans said it was "a welcome addition to the proposals as it enhances the overall viability of the development particularly in the evenings and weekends. It provides further opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the stadium and to feel a sense of ownership and pride in the developments there".

Although the stadium is next to the Falkirk Gateway, which also proposes to build offices and a hotel, councillors heard the two developments were unlikely to clash. Indeed, director of community services Maureen Campbell said there was an opportunity to market the two together by highlighting the area as a suitable location.

Council leader David Alexander said: "When we set out on this journey five years ago, it was safe to say it was a pretty unique venture. It hadn't been done before but we believed it was attainable with very hard work and that was what was required. But we had a belief in what we could deliver.

"This is a hugely exciting step forward for the stadium and the sustainability of the site."

Campbell Christie, chairman of Falkirk FC, welcomed the decision and said he was sure the board would also give its agreement when it meets next week.

He said: "This will allow FCSL to enter into a development agreement with Terrace Hill, obtain the necessary planning approvals and see the beginning of the building process to complete the next four phases of the stadium development.

"As a result of this agreement, we will begin to see the stadium of the future take shape. It will provide the means by which the long-term ambitions of the club for a four stand stadium can be realised in the fullness of time.

"This is another important landmark for FCSL and for Falkirk FC and we should be delighted at the progress being made."

Last night (Wednesday), no-one from Terrace Hill was available for comment.

jill.buchanan@falkirkherald.co.uk