Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann calls for public inquiry over Lincolnshire Lakes project

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 8 Feb 2019

Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann has called for a public inquiry into the handling of the Lincolnshire Lakes project and the building of a new stadium.

The club had wanted to relocate as part of the Lincolnshire Lakes project, which will see the creation of 6,000 homes and new community facilities on land between Scunthorpe and the River Trent.

But after various delays and complications regarding a site, the club were unable to build on the Lakes site.

Mr Swann claims in a statement on the Scunthorpe United website that promises have been broken and that the truth about what happened with the development continue to be hidden from the public.

And he now wants a public inquiry into the matter.

In the statement, he said: "Promises have continued to be broken and the truth about flood defence works and what happened with our development continue to be hidden from the public.

The Lincolnshire Lakes project has had various delays and complications (Image: Lincolnshire Lakes)

"A public inquiry should now be led by our MP Nic Dakin as quickly as possible."

The club have now decided to redevelop Glanford Park, with the plans also including the provision of new jobs and a minimum of 160 new starter homes.

Mr Swann feels this will underpin the financial viability of the football club and secure its future.

MORE: Major £13.5m Scunthorpe gateway scheme given the go-ahead

In the statement, he said he feels he has been misled by North Lincolnshire Council, and that the whole saga has cost the club millions of pounds in lost revenue.

The statement was issued in response to an interview council leader Rob Waltham gave to a podcast by Scunthorpe United fan site Iron Bru.

In the podcast, Mr Waltham said: "Our job is to support the club. But we have to do that in the constraints of the law, and that has some limiting factors.

North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham (Image: Scunthorpe Telegraph)

"There is a real will to see the club succeed, to see fans out there cheering every weekend, to see the players who play their guts out – there’s a will from the council to support in every way we can."

MORE: Vital £13m flood defence work is now underway

On the delay to the Lakes project, Mr Waltham said: "The turning point on the Lincolnshire Lakes was 2013 when 200 houses were flooded. The council took a view then that if we were going to have development then you have to do it responsibly, and the infrastructure is in place.

"At the time, Andrew Percy and Liz Redfern said it didn't feel right for us to start as these people were out of their homes.

"In the communities eyes, whether the flood risk is managed, we had to reassure people that the flood defences would be reapproved before the housing starts. That put a two-and-a-half year delay on the Lakes.

"However, I am pleased to say that since then, earlier last year we had £13 million approved by the Government to start the flood defence works along the Trent bank.


A new £13.5 million junction is to be created on the M181 after planning permission was granted by North Lincolnshire Council (Image: David Haber/scunthorpelive)

"From the council’s perspective, we were keeping our promise to making sure the infrastructure was improved before the Lakes happened. Recently, we have had the approval of the southern roundabout on the M181, which is another important part of the infrastructure.

"Yes – we have slowed it down. But for all the right reasons. First of all to make sure the market is in place to build the houses. Secondly to keep our promise on the flood infrastructure, and thirdly to make sure the highway infrastructure starts to get developed as well."

MORE: Lincolnshire Lakes 'not dead in the water' says council leader as Scunthorpe United pull out of stadium plans

In August the club applied for full planning permission to redevelop Glanford Park, as well as a separate outline application for the new homes.  

In the statement, Mr Swann said: "I love Scunthorpe United and I want to do my best whilst I am here, but I want to be treated fairly and I want the club to be treated fairly.

"It’s not a spat, it’s about telling people what’s going on and giving them the facts, not what you want to say or for the people to hear."


Council leader responds to Scunthorpe United chairman's call for public inquiry over Lincolnshire Lakes

Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann (left) and North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham

North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham has said he is satisfied the authority is following planning processes "legally and appropriately" after Scunthorpe United chairman Peter Swann called for a public inquiry over the Lincolnshire Lakes project.

The £1.2 billion Lakes development is to include of 6,000 homes and new community facilities in new villages to be created between Scunthorpe and the River Trent and United had planned to build a new stadium as part of the scheme.

But various delays and complications regarding a site meant the club were unable to build the ground on the Lincolnshire Lakes land and plans are instead now in place to redevelop the current Glanford Park stadium.

Mr Swann made his call in a lengthy statement on the club's website this morning, claiming promises made to the Iron had been broken since planning permission was granted for a stadium on the Lakes site in March 2016.

MORE: Work to revamp Glanford Park could begin in summer

He said: "Promises have continued to be broken and the truth about flood defence works and what happened with our development continue to be hidden from the public.

"A public inquiry should now be led by our MP Nic Dakin as quickly as possible."

The statement came after an interview given by council leader Mr Waltham for a podcast by Scunthorpe United fans' website Iron Bru, in which delays to the Lakes project were addressed.

In response to this morning's statement, Mr Waltham pointed to a recent judgement on a legal challenge by United to a grant of £1.9 million by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership to the council in September 2017 towards a "northern junction" on the line of the M181.


North Lincolnshire Council leader Rob Waltham (right), pictured at an event to mark the start of flood defence works on the east bank of the River Trent at Burringham in August last year

The club claimed the LEP did not give adequate consideration to its rival proposal to use the grant to develop a junction elsewhere, referred to as the southern junction, as part of its plans to build a stadium.

Mr Waltham said: "Peter Swann's last attempt at a public inquiry resulted in his judicial review being dismissed and saw Judge Kramer diminish a number of statements made by the club. That is a matter of public record. 

"I am satisfied that the council is following planning processes legally and appropriately. 

"It is a fact that the flood relief works are taking place now and homes are being made more flood safe as a result of this investment. It is a fact that last month the southern roundabout was approved.

"However, to be clear, the Lincolnshire Lakes is not a council scheme, private business have the plan to deliver this, not the council. It is their job to spend their shareholders' money."

Mr Waltham also referred to a decision earlier this week by Blackpool Council to reject plans for a £20 million luxury hotel in the Lancashire resort, brought forward by Mr Swann's Cool Silk development company, after an agreement could not be reached over its colour scheme. 

Mr Waltham said: "Given the recent decision by the Blackpool planning committee against Mr Swann’s development there, I guess he feels that councils across the country are against him.

"I can only speak for my part, I welcome any commitment to invest in North Lincolnshire, however legal processes must be followed."



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