Exeter City reveal ambitious plans for redevelopment
Exeter City has unveiled radical plans to redevelop St James' Park.
Hundreds of student flats could be built next to the stadium site to finance the construction of two new stands as part of a multi-million pound scheme.
The football club has today launched a public consultation with supporters and residents ahead of any planning application being submitted.
Artists' impressions showing how the ground could look have gone on show in an exhibition at the Grecian Centre at St James' Park.
NEW FROM SYMPLY - a wet dog food in a tray freshly steamed with real meat and veg you can see minimum of 68% meat content up to 72% in the adult trays.
Terms: Come and try tray at introductory price of £1
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Friday, January 31 2014
It follows months of behind-the-scenes planning driven by the increasingly urgent need to replace the dilapidated Old Grandstand, also known as the Stagecoach family stand, before it can no longer meet safety standards.
The redevelopment proposals, which have been drawn up by architects Kensington Taylor, are intended to give City the facilities needed to become an established club in the second tier of English football.
Under the draft plans, the old grandstand – built in 1926 – would be demolished and replaced with a completely new stand, incorporating changing rooms, corporate boxes and administration offices.
Terracing at the away end would make way for a new stand, with a retail unit on the corner of St James' Road and Well Street forming part of the structure.
The landmark former St James' School building – currently home to club offices, hospitality suites and the Centre Spot bar – would be demolished.
A new building in its place would include potentially lucrative conference facilities and a new base for Devon Youth Service's Fountain Centre, alongside a 214-bedroom student accommodation block.
Another block of student accommodation, consisting of 280 bedrooms, would be built on the car park behind the Big Bank in partnership with a private developer.
Consultants have estimated that the cost of enhancing the football stadium at around £7 million. To fund this, around £25 million of commercial development would have to take place.
Club chairman Edward Chorlton said the number of student flats proposed was carefully calculated to make the scheme financially viable.
"The club does not borrow money and has no debt. It is looking therefore at enabling development to pay for the stadium improvements," he said.
"The scheme doesn't add up financially if you reduce the number of flats."
In 2007, a report by consultants Drivers Jonas concluded that staying at St James' Park and upgrading the stadium was preferable to ground-sharing with the Exeter Chiefs or relocating to a new site.
Under the plans being considered, the capacity of the ground would rise from around 8,850 to 10,500 if the away end becomes an all-seater stand.
The replacement away end would have a capacity of 1,650 seated or 2,700 standing spectators, compared with the current limit of 1,053.
The new grandstand could accommodate 2,800 fans – up from the 1,690 capacity of the existing Stagecoach stand.
"The old grandstand – also known as the family stand or the Stagecoach stand – is past its sell-by date," said Mr Chorlton.