Charity bosses will not try to stop plans to build a new stadium for FC United.
Town hall planners gave the green light last week for the club to build a 5,000-seat ground on playing fields in Moston.
Neighbours fighting the development were pinning their hopes on an appeal to the Charity Commission, in the hope it would recognise the ground’s historic covenant.
But lawyers for the independent commission have now ruled the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields is NOT charitable land.
The decision paves the way for the club to build the £3.5m stadium at the ground.
Campaigners maintain the proposed site is protected by an historic agreement and was given to residents for ‘leisure’ purposes in memory of heroes who died during the First World War.
But the Charity Commission said it did not believe the land met the description
A spokesman said: “Based on the information provided to us by the council and numerous members of the public, our initial view regarding the land was that it did not appear to be held on charitable trusts.
“However, this was a question for the council to consider and satisfy themselves on, based on their legal advice.
“We have since been informed that the council is satisfied that the land is not held on charitable trusts, therefore the land does not fall within our jurisdiction and there is no regulatory role for the Commission regarding its use.”
Bob Hill, chair of the residents association in Moston which is fighting the plan, said it would be seeking further legal advice.
He said: “Our chief concern has always been the loss of a much loved open green space in Moston. No attempt has ever been made to investigate a brown field site for this purpose of which there are many.
“We will of course be speaking to our legal people regarding this and other matters.”
But club officials welcomed the ruling. Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United, said: “Thursday’s planning decision was a great step forward for us. “We are aware that there are a number of covenants on the land but we believe that our plans satisfy those covenants and we are working with Manchester council to be able to do that.”
FC United, who currently play at Bury’s Gigg Lane, will now wait for a decision from Manchester council’s executive on unlocking the £750,000 funding needed to build the stadium. Council planners approved the scheme after visiting the site last week.
The club says it hopes to complete the stadium for the start of the 2012/13 football season.
November 01, 2011