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Rossendale Planning Applications Review recent planning applications received by Rossendale Borough Council.

Objection to Houses on Dark Lane Part 2
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Old 01-11-12, 12:27   #1
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Objection to Houses on Dark Lane Part 2

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Comment on the Policies on Greenlands (no17.6) and 14 Tourism.

“New developments should contribute to the provision of recreational green space”. This proposal has exactly the opposite effect. With regard to tourism, Policy 14, it is also difficult to understand how a new housing estate will attract tourists to Rossendale unlike Rossendale United at Dark Lane which brought in fans from visiting club to the Valley.

 Development must provide something of benefit to the wider public in
terms of sport and/or recreation provision to make up for the loss of the
football pitch, even though it was a private facility. What exactly will a housing estate of 50 houses contribute to recreational facilities? The section S106 monies offered by the applicant amount to 60k from a likely sale price of over 1m. Is this is meant to compensate the community for the loss of a fully developed football stadium?





Ref 5 Planning Statement dated 6th July 2012

4.31

Policy 7 resists the loss of social infrastructure and cultural facilities, which is a description which could have applied to the former football club and its ground. The policy provides guidance on the factors that will be taken into account where a planning application proposes the loss of such a facility.

4.32

Loss of the application site is justified as an exception to the default stance of Policy 7 because:

• The former football club had been supported financially for over 10 years by the owner, but was not a viable concern and has amassed debts which could not be paid.

The financial control of Rossendale United Co Ltd rests firmly with Andrew Connolly. He holds the cheque books. If the Club was not viable, it should have ceased trading. Debts allegedly include bank charges on the ground to cover loans to the owner.

• Rossendale United Supporters Association made efforts to establish a new football club, but could not establish sufficient support to make that a viable use for the Dark Lane site or elsewhere.

Rossendale United Supporters Association registered a new club, Rossendale Football Club with the Financial Services Authority assisted by Supporters Direct. Our initial discussions were with Rossendale Amateurs who play at Marl Pits. We were told by Declan Conlan, the then chairman of Rossendale Amateurs, that the arrangements for football at Marl Pits were so unsatisfactory that the Amateurs could not envisage basing a non-league club on the centre pitch at Marl Pits currently used by a number of other clubs.
The Association asked the Council for their help in finding a suitable site for a new ground. We met with Tamzin Percival of Rossendale Borough Council and discussed the use of New Hall Hey Cricket Ground (subsequently leased to Stacksteads CC), some sharing arrangement at Marl Pits and the land opposite the Health Centre which is known as Paddy's Meadow. Paddy’s Meadow is owned by Lancashire County Council. It is too narrow to accommodate an adult football pitch never mind accommodate spectators. The fact of the matter is that Dark Lane is one of the few places in the Valley where an adult non-league football club can operate. We subsequently decided to withdraw our application to the FSA but remain extant and are working with other members of the Rossendale Football Forum to establish an adult non-league club. Of course this includes Rossendale United Juniors who currently field 6 junior teams under the name of Rossendale United.

• The football club and the Dark Lane facilities have been marketed since Autumn 2009 with no takers for it and no interest from those wishing to establish the site as a community facility. Hardly surprising given the asking price of 750,000. In 2007, Rossendale United Supporters Association requested a business tenancy to run the ground. Approaches have been made to develop the ground as a community facility by Rossendale United Juniors and Bacup Borough FC.These approaches were rejected by Andrew Connolly.
.


Ref 6 Press Release by Andrew Watt of Maze Planning Associates

“The loss of a long-standing football Club like Rossendale United
Football is always a sad event. Regrettably it’s a reflection of the
continuing polarisation of football wealth, which has seen the Premier
League clubs grow richer, whilst those in lower leagues struggle to
survive in the absence of lucrative sponsorship deals, income from
television rights and wealthy benefactors. Critically for Rossendale
United, there just weren’t sufficient numbers of supporters coming in
through the turnstiles every week to support the club.”

See above comments about Bacup Borough FC, Ramsbottom United FC, Accrington Stanley FC and Fleetwood Town FC. On acquistion in 1999, Andrew Connolly did some good things for the Club, dealing with debts, erecting new floodlights improving the enclosures, however “benefactor withdrawal syndrome” set in as described by Dr John Beech of Football Management, who wrote on 1st March 2011, see Trouble at Rossendale United and Rothwell Town Football Management
“F
irst up is Rossendale United. The club faces expulsion from the League for non-fulfillment of matches (1). The immediate problem is that the club’s water supply has been turned off (2), which proved to be the last straw for the three fans who in effect had become the management team struggling to keep the club going (see also here, posting by David Hancock).
The club is suffering from a classic case of BWS - ‘Benefactor’ Withdrawal Syndrome. The club had been ‘saved from financial ruin’ in 1999 by local ‘benefactor’ Andrew Connolly, who ironically is a demolition expert. His long-term goal was – and here the dreaded ‘A’ word. ‘ambition’ inevitably creeps in – to take the club to the Conference (3). As he put it at the time, “If it’s good enough for Manchester United, it’s good enough for Dale“.
Initially things went relatively well, with a grant for new floodlights (4) and the appointment of a Commercial Manager (5). By 2003 Connolly and his wife Sandra were beginning to feel the pressure though, and a new Board was appointed (6). Managers came and went (nothing out of the ordinary there then!), but in 2006 the Chairman, Declan Callan, who had been “hailed as the man who turned the club around” resigned (7). Connolly expressed his continuing committment to the club, and pointed out “I have personally invested 370,000 into the club which has put enormous strain on my main business” (8). Many a fan would have doubtless seen this as Rossendale United’s good fortune, but I would see it as the setting up of a business model that would clearly be unsustainable if Connolly was either unwilling or unable to continue this funding. It would also see it as financial doping, the deliberate attempt to buy success and upset the competitive balance within the league.”
Dr Beech’s analysis proved to be all too accurate, illustrating the deficiency in the limited company model such as Rossendale United Co Ltd where ownership is exclusively vested in one or two individuals, whose motives were and remain suspect by many supporters and potential sponsors. It is for this reason that the Supporters Association registered a new Rossendale FC under the Friendly Societies Act 1974 with a broad membership and ownership constitution.

Last edited by Ron Ashworth : 01-11-12 at 12:30.
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