Cambridge United stadium plan: Club moves on after setback

Artist's sketch of proposed new Cambridge United stadium

Cambridge United chairman Dave Doggett has said is "not the end of the road".

The U's had hoped to move from the Abbey Stadium to greenbelt land near the village of Trumpington.

"This is one setback. It is not the end of the road," Doggett told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

"It's difficult at the moment because we've got a stadium that isn't fit for purpose," he added.

"If we want to encourage more people to come we need facilities where people can enjoy the football but also the other aspects to do with youth and community."

The Abbey Stadium, on Newmarket Road, is owned by the international property developer Grosvenor Homes, which wishes to redevelop it for houses.

The proposed stadium would have been paid for by Grosvenor Homes, but Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District councils said the need for the venue was not sufficient to build it on greenbelt land.

Grosvenor have said the need to build the venue was satisfied by a document published by development group Cambridgeshire Horizons in 2008.

"Both South Cambs and the city council were signed up to that," said Grosvenor project director Ed Skeates.

"Number one on that list was the community stadium, with a new home for Cambridge United explicitly as its number one regional priority.

"We're a little bit exasperated by this. But it's not the end at all."

South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member for planning policy Pippa Corney said further research had overruled the Cambridgeshire Horizons document.

"I'm aware of the documents. They were published before my time," she said.

"My officers have gone through those documents and done further research and have failed to establish a need.

"The residents of Haslingfield and Trumpington were clear in what they thought.

"I think if we can find a suitable location [for a stadium] - we will definitely work with the club to do it. But Grosvenor hold the key to their future, not us."

Cambridge United do not have a time limit to be out of their current home, but failure to secure planning permission significantly delays any potential move.

Doggett added: "I think the stadium is essential for a community. I'm surprised that someone hasn't read the report from five years ago which identified a need.

"The government has said post-Olympics we should have sporting facilities and this was a perfect opportunity to do that and would have been a big boost to the county's economy."