Heather Brock, Director, No KIngsford Stadium Limited
I am Heather Brock and I would like to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to speak today.
As councillors know, this development is a significant departure from the recently adopted Local Development Plan. Others today will give far more detail in terms of planning however, I feel bound to speak about the propaganda and misleading statements made by Aberdeen Football Club and others in support of this application.
Since the early 2000s, we have been told tales at hearings such as this. Tales that AFC will cease to be, that European football will stop, that there is no plan B etc. etc.
For all the hot air and rhetoric from Stewart Milne, George Yule and others, these things HAVE NOT COME TO PASS. I put it to you, that these statements are inventions, designed to push an emotional case for the application rather than one based on the truth and planning policies.
Mr Milne is known for using the phase “There is No Plan B”
However, the club already have multiple options should this application be refused. There is an allotted site in the local development plan – a site for which the club already had consent.
Should this location no longer be available then a partnership with the council to deliver the Kings Links site would be an appropriate way forward and, in keeping with the ambition of the city centre masterplan. A Kings Links site would continue to support the many businesses in the area that depend on AFC to survive; businesses that are unlikely to be viable should the club move some eight miles from its historic home.
Both Mr Milne and Mr Yule have stated, in the run up to this hearing that the future of the club is “at risk” should you not grant this application. But this has been said before, I quote Mr Milne from January 2011 at the Pre-determination Hearing for Loirston:
“If this bid fails and we can’t move, we face severe consequences for AFC. The negative impact to the region will be very substantial, and not only does the Club face a very bleak future, we also loose the opportunity to develop football in the region.”
And yet, here we are – AFC is the second most successful club in the land, the “bleak future” foretold over 6 years ago has not appeared and there has been no negative impact on the region.
AFC have in their supporting documents claimed that attendances at Pittodrie would drop to 8500 should this application be refused. This statement is scaremongering – the club’s average attendance over the last 10 years is 13,830. Even when the club’s performances have been at their poorest, it has never dropped as low as 8500. There is no evidence that remaining at Pittodrie will see any kind of decline.
I have heard in the press - “Derek McInnes will leave if he doesn’t get new training facilities“
Mr McInnes will leave – of that there is no doubt – that is the nature of football – managers come and managers go. Building a stadium and facilities to placate a manager is hardly the best basis for such a major deviation from the development plan.
AFC have promoted this development as a ‘community stadium’. It is not. It is a single sport facility. There are two pitches which may be hired by community groups and a small pavilion room which could be booked out by groups. There is no grand “Community Sports Hub” and nothing in the application which would deliver this. The notion that this is a Community stadium is ridiculous – it is a football stadium – nothing more.
Mr Milne has claimed that Aberdeen will become a “backwater” should this application be refused. Other have claimed that refusing this application will show the city is not open for business.
Aberdeen City is absolutely open for business. The focus on the City Centre Master Plan, the new AECC and the harbour developments show that the city is prepared to deliver key projects that will benefit the area. The Kingsford Stadium plans, as detailed by your own Economic Development Report, will not deliver any significant benefit for the city – in fact it may result in a significant loss of income for the city centre.
Granting this application will not deliver regeneration for the North East but will make many of the businesses in Seaton/Kings Street no longer viable.
Councillors, I request that you refuse this application for the benefit of all our communities and then work with Aberdeen Football Club to deliver the sites identified in the strategic development plan.
In addition, I would like to add that the comments made about the Westhill and Elrick Community Council and the Kingswells Community Council today are unsubstantiated and unfair as they have no right to reply.
For your information, of those that made representations in Westhill 89% were objections, 11% supports and in Kingswells 78% objections and 22% supports.