Exclusive by Mike Keegan
This is how the new home for FC United will look – if the club’s plans get the green light.
The exclusive first look at the artist’s impression reveals the breakaway outfit’s proposals for a 5,000-capacity home on Moston’s Ronald Johnson playing fields .
FC bosses believe the designs illustrate the ‘minimal impact’ the planned move will have on residents.
They say stands at the compact stadium will be no higher than a large semi-detached house and point to a host of community facilities included in the project which they believe will open what is currently a fenced-off area to those who live nearby.
The £3.5m plans include two youth pitches for Moston Juniors, who currently lease the playing fields from Manchester council, with the opportunity to play major matches in the stadium.
There will also be a full-sized artificial pitch, an open-to-the public medical room managed by club physios and balconies where parents can watch their kids play.
As part of their bid to create an environmentally-friendly distinctive facility, railway sleepers will be used on the exterior of the stadium. An IT learning room is also planned and the club’s car park may be opened to nearby St Mary’s Primary to alleviate school-run issues.
Trees will be planted around the project and the positioning of a car park means the ground itself will be at least 50 metres away from nearby houses.
The Rebels, formed as a co-operative in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, will make a planning application in the next two months.
Club officials will also contact the Charity Commission in a bid to satisfy a covenant on part of the land in between St Mary’s Road and Lightbowne Road.
General manager Andy Walsh said: "This development isn’t just about football, it’s about creating a community facility with open access to the people of Moston and north Manchester. It’s about proposals that create the opportunity to enhance the existing provision in the local area.
"We are working in partnership with Moston Juniors and Manchester council and we’ve been in discussions with them for around 10-12 weeks.
"FC United are trying to minimise the impact on the local area and we want to reassure residents that their concerns will be listened to."
The club, who play in the seventh tier of English football, are currently voluntarily speaking to residents, some of whom have objected to their plans. Once the application goes in a period of formal consultation will take place before a verdict is reached.
The drawings are consultation drafts and may be amended before that application is made.
But Joanne Hilton, who lives on St Mary’s Road and has led protests against the scheme, remains unmoved.
She said: "They have spent a lot of time and money on the drawings and the plans would be great – for a brownfield site.
"But this is green land and we don’t want it. We surveyed people at one of the drop-ins and out of 221 people asked 170 were against it. This is not about football, it is about keeping that field for the people of Moston."
If the development goes ahead, FC United, who currently play at Bury’s Gigg Lane ground and attract average gates of around 2,000, will kick off at their new home in time for the 2012-2013 season.
Planning permission will be sought for all stands to be under cover but two may remain roofless if plans go over budget.
The site was identified as an alternative to Ten Acres Lane, Newton Heath, after Manchester council reallocated funding.
FC United are also looking to bring in additional funding to improve the pitches on nearby Broadhurst fields.
Chances to have your say ...
FC UNITED bosses are holding four drop-in sessions to get feedback from local people who will be affected by the plans.
Residents have launched a major attack on the proposals – claiming the stadium will bring anti-social behaviour and parking problems to their neighbourhood.
But general manager Andy Walsh said: "We recognise that the residents are anxious about the disruption that the proposals might bring. We want to reassure people that this is a small football ground with a maximum capacity of 5,000.
"In five years at Gigg Lane, we have only had a handful of incidents of anti-social behaviour. We recognise parking is an issue but we are working with residents to address that."
The drop-in sessions will be at Moston Methodist Church on June 21, 6pm-8pm; Moston Labour Club on June 22, 6-8pm; North City Library on June 29 from 6pm-8pm and at the Miners Community Centre on June 30 from 6pm-8pm.
Mr Walsh said: "This is not a done deal so we want to hear any concerns so we can take these into consideration as we develop our proposals."
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