Argyle development to give Central Park a £1.1m boost
CENTRAL Park will be a big winner in the redevelopment of Plymouth Argyle's ground, says club boss James Brent.
Mr Brent's Akkeron Group hopes to win planning permission next week for a £50million project to turn Home Park into a major sporting and leisure destination alongside the Life Centre.
The scheme will provide a new grandstand, hotel, ice rink and other facilities.
In an exclusive interview with The Herald yesterday, Mr Brent said he would provide £1.1million worth of improvements to neighbouring Central Park.
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On top of that, Akkeron will pay for significant road improvements in the area.
Mr Brent said he was still aiming to start work in the autumn if he gets the green light from the city's planning committee next Thursday.
"We are confident that we have a very good scheme for Plymouth and hope that the planning committee will share our excitement.
"We have been trying to keep the pace going and are keen to start on-site as quickly as possible. It's a tight timetable."
Early in the consultation process, a group of Argyle fans called for a bigger grandstand and for development to be pushed on to Cottage Field in Central Park.
Mr Brent said yesterday that it was "quite right and proper that Argyle fans want the best for the club".
"It's fair and appropriate that a number of fans challenged us to provide more space around the stadium.
"The balance we have tried hard to achieve is a recognition that there are many interested parties."
He said he had had widespread support from Central Park users. "Quite a number of people have been won over.
"There are many people who would perceive themselves to be friends of Central Park and who are really enthusiastic about this project.
"I would challenge whether the group who call themselves Friends of Central Park are representative of all the users.
"I don't think the young people who use Cottage Field every day would view what we are proposing as anything other than incredibly positive."
Asked to reassure doubters that the development would not harm Central Park, Mr Brent said: "I am 110 per cent confident that this will enhance the park."
He said the football club had been playing on its Home Park site since 1900. Central Park was only acquired by the council in 1925 and not developed as a park until the 1930s.
"Central Park was acquired for the recreation and leisure of the people of Plymouth, and that is what we are providing," he said.