Salford Council yesterday confirmed its joint plans with Peel Holdings to finally build the troubled 15,000 seat £26million stadium for Salford City Reds, or a `community sports complex' as it's now known.
However, sections of the Barton `70-acre super site' and the whole stadium itself sits right in the middle of land that has an old covenant on it, restricting its use to things like `public open space and agricultural purposes' - anything but a rugby stadium.
The land is actually owned by Salford Council but the covenant is held by a `third party' whose details the Council won't divulge.
This week, after a meeting of the Council's Lead Member for Property, it was agreed to `appropriate the land', using planning powers under Section 237 of the Town and Country Planning Act. This authorises "the erection, construction or carrying out of any building or work…even if it involves interference with third party rights."
In return the `third party' will be paid compensation.
"We've known about the covenant for some considerable time and are now working to resolve any outstanding issues with it" says Councillor David Lancaster, Salford Council's Lead Member for Property.
"This is a normal part of developing any sites which have been assembled over a number of years and from a variety of previous owners" he adds "Clearly, I can't pre-empt any of those discussions or negotiations as that would not be in the interests of our taxpayers. We have good legal advice on this and expect to reach a satisfactory outcome."
This will cost local taxpayers more money towards the stadium project, on top of the Council's £20million loan and the NWDA grant estimated at around £6million.
Meanwhile, if negotiations don't reach a "satisfactory outcome" expect to see a bunch of people tending sheep and growing potatoes on the pitch during the Reds' first home game…
See history of the Salford City Reds Stadium here and here and here