Brighton & Hove Albion look to expand Amex Stadium capacity to 30,000

Brighton & Hove Albion FC is looking to expand the capacity of the American Express Community Stadium to 30,000 ahead of the 2012/13 campaign.

The proposed expansion will add a further 8,000 seats to the arena, incorporating a second tier in the East Stand as well as extra seats in two corners of the stadium.

The proposal looked to be under threat before Brighton & Hove City Council’s Green administration made a u-turn and softened its stance on the plans for the £100million stadium.

A joint statement by council leader Bill Randall and Albion executive director Martin Perry said: “The council and the football club want the Albion to continue to flourish, bring Premier League football to Brighton and Hove, sustain and develop its highly successful community work, to expand the stadium by 8,000 seats and create even more jobs.”

The expansion was thought to be in doubt following issues relating to a plot of council-owned land on the site of the former Falmer High School.

The plot was promised to the club, with officials hoping to use it for 1,000 car parking spaces on match days.

The Greens had wanted to market the land themselves, and secure a better ‘commercial deal’ for the taxpayer.

However, with the u-turn complete, the Seagulls are now able to conduct an independent travel survey for a 30,000 seat stadium, which will look at how fans get to and from the ground.

With 45% of fans currently travelling to and from games by train, the club will spend £200,000 on improving Falmer train station if the expansion is granted planning permission.

Improvements would include a second exit from platform one, and widening of platforms at the station.

One area which is likely to alarm the club though is the number of fans still choosing to park nearby and walk to the Amex, with residential areas in Coldean and Moulsecoomb among the worst affected.

The club released an official statement on its official website on 30 March 2012 urging fans not to park in the local areas, and to use public transport instead.

The statement said: “Brighton & Hove City Council is aware that supporters have been parking within the Moulsecoomb and Coldean areas of the city.

“This is having a negative impact on the club’s planning application to increase the capacity at the Amex.

“Brighton & Hove Albion need to be good neighbours and the club want supporters to take full advantage of the extra trains provided on match days, as well as the convenient park and ride service in place at Brighton Racecourse.

“It is very important that supporters use the designated car parks, park and ride sites, buses or trains to travel to the stadium to minimise the impact on our neighbours.”

Albion already has a subsidised travel scheme in place for fans, enabling them to travel to and from games for just £1 on buses, trains and coaches.

The scheme is valid as far as Worthing to the west, Lewes to the east, and Haywards Heath to the north.

In addition to public bus and train services, supporters can also travel from any of three park and ride sites, located at Brighton Racecourse, Mithras House and Mill Road.

The appeal seems to have fallen on deaf ears in some cases though, with some fans still insistent on ignoring the club’s pleas.

One fans, writing on fans’ forum North Stand Chat, said: “I shall continue parking in Coldean.

“[As] much as I support the club and would like to see the extra seats, I don’t do park and ride and the train is not convenient.

“[There’s] nothing wrong with parking in Coldean providing you don’t block people’s driveways.”

As part of the planning application, Albion has included plans for parking permits to be used in the affected areas.

However, these are likely to prove unpopular with residents due to the cost of permits and restrictions remaining in place on non-match days.

Albion also faces the possibility of having to find a fourth park and ride site in the coming years, with the current car park site on Bennett’s Field only a temporary solution.

The site – directly adjacent to the Amex – is currently utilised by fans in the club’s corporate 1901 Club.

Any extra park and ride site would include enough space for 2,700 supporters to make their way to the ground, and is likely to be to the east of the city in Lewes.

This would lead to an extra 34 bus journeys to and from the arena on match days.

Albion’s expansion plans have also received backing from a number of key bodies, including Southern Railway, Sussex Enterprise, Natural England, Sussex Police, East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove Bus Company.

Crucially, the Universities of Brighton and Sussex are also now in support of the application, having originally being opposed to the expansion.

A spokeswoman for the University of Brighton said: “The University is keen to support Brighton & Hove Albion’s plans to increase capacity at its stadium.

“However, as its very close neighbour, we are particularly affected by traffic congestion issues which we have been working with the club and council to resolve.

“We are very hopeful of a quick resolution to allow the council to grant planning permission.”

WRITTEN AND POSTED BY LIAM DAWES

Posted by on Apr 25th, 2012 and filed under Brighton and Hove Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion News, Community, News, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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