Headingley stadium plan set for go-ahead

An artist's impression of the new rugby south stand
An artist's impression of the new rugby south stand
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A MAJOR redevelopment of the Headingley Carnegie stadium is expected to be given the go-ahead by councillors next week.

Councillors are recommended to grant planning permission for a new south stand on the rugby side of the stadium and a replacement for the existing joint stand facing both the rugby and cricket grounds.

The rugby south stand was due to be demolished at the end of last year’s Super League season but the work was delayed with planning permission yet to be secured and amid uncertainty over funding for the redevelopment.

Leeds Rhinos were hoping to sell land in Weetwood and Tingley for housing developments to help pay for the scheme.

But both planning applications, which were also due to be considered next week, have been withdrawn following local opposition.

A report to be considered by councillors at next week’s meeting warns the redevelopment is critical to Headingley continuing to host test cricket beyond 2020 and for its chances of hosting matches as part of the Cricket World Cup in 2019.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has told Yorkshire County Cricket Club the joint north-south stand is “in need of significant upgrading” if it is to retain its status as a test match venue.

There is a “clear risk” to plans to host four Cricket World Cup matches and Headingley’s test match status if the development does not go ahead, the report says.

The existing rugny south stand is operating at a reduced capacity for safety reasons and its safety certificate is due for renewal next year.

“The rugby club have previously invested substantial funds in repairing the existing terrace stand just to maintain it at its current reduced capacity,” the report says.

“It is recognised that the existing stand is in need of being replaced to afford spectators, fans and the ground with facilities that modern sporting stadia require.”

The report also warns that moves by rival rugby league clubs into new stadia in recent years is making Headingley a less attractive venue for hosting international fixtures as England prepares to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2021.

If councillors agree to the development, it is possible the decision could be further reviewed by Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid before work can begin.