Northampton

AFC Rushden and Diamonds oppose Nene Park development plans

Nene Park, Irthlingborough
Image caption About £30m was spent on the facilities at the Nene Park stadium in Irthlingborough in Northamptonshire

Plans to replace a redundant stadium with shops and a cinema have been opposed by the club formed after the demise of the team that played there.

Conalgen Enterprises SA want to demolish the former Rushden and Diamonds ground in Irthlingborough.

AFC Rushden and Diamonds, created in 2011 after Rushden and Diamonds went into administration, said the area was "in dire need" of sporting facilities.

The developers have been contacted by the BBC but refused to comment.

Image caption The redevelopment plans include keeping this football pitch

The company submitted an application to replace Nene Park with a four storey hotel, cinema, restaurants and a food store in December.

It includes a proposal to keep a football pitch to the far end of the site.

AFC Rushden and Diamonds vice chairman Jon Ward said: "There's no ancillary structures, no changing rooms and no stands.

"It would be useful for some Saturday morning and Sunday teams, but for a team playing at our level it wouldn't really be suitable."

The club, which has 36 teams playing in the area, has formally objected to the plan.

Image caption Jon Ward said AFC Rusden and Diamonds believes the plans contravene the government's national planning policy framework

Nene Park, which has a capacity of 6,400, was opened by Sir Bobby Robson and was seen as one of the finest non-league football grounds before Rushden and Diamonds gained promotion to the Football league.

The stadium was developed throughout the 1990s using funds from club owner and Dr Martens tycoon Max Griggs.

However, in 2011 the club went into administration and supporters decided to create a phoenix club - and within a month AFC Rushden & Diamonds was born.

Kettering Town FC briefly moved into the stadium, but since 2012 it has been sitting empty.

The application for outline planning permission will be decided by East Northamptonshire Council.


The rise and fall of Rushden and Diamonds

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rushden and Diamonds's first home game as a Football League club was against Lincoln City in August 2001

1992 - Rushden and Diamonds are formed, playing in the Southern League

1996 - Promoted to the Conference (now called the National League)

2001 - Promoted to the Football League

2003 - Promoted to Division Two (now called League One)

2004 - Relegated back to Division Three (now called League Two)

2006 - Relegated back to the Conference

2011 - Club expelled from the Conference and becomes insolvent


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