The long saga of Grimsby Town’s dream new stadium

The long saga of Grimsby Town’s dream new stadium

Never has the expression ‘the goalposts keep moving’ been more apt than to describe the endless saga that is the quest for a new Grimsby Town stadium.

The A180 interchange looking towards Great Coates village with the proposed site of the Grimsby Town stadium that was nearly built in the noughties
The A180 interchange looking towards Great Coates village with the proposed site of the Grimsby Town stadium that was nearly built in the noughties
Of all the ventures that have been mooted for North East Lincolnshire over the years, it is undoubtedly the most infamous, rooted at the core of the endless rainbow-chasing quest for ‘putting the Great back in Grimsby’ that fuels so much impatient cynicism in the area.

Like the Greek myth of Sisyphus, eternally condemned to push a boulder up a hill but never reach the summit, the Mariners and the club’s faithful fans have endured a parade of excitable masterplan unveilings and drip-fed hype-building announcements, only for each project to come rolling back down to the bottom of the proverbial mountain just as things were beginning to look like they might really happen.

With Grimsby Town having now been tenants of Blundell Park for more than 120 years, a move is seen by many as long overdue.

Here we look at the major plans that have been talked about over the past quarter of a century only to fall by the wayside. So far …

Great Coates

Before Peaks Parkway, there was Great Coates, and it was a saga that went on so long it forms an entire era of the Grimsby Town stadium story.

The wheels were first put in motion in the mid-1990s, but it wasn’t until the new millennium that wishful thinking began to look like it could be more than just a dream.

In November 2000, North East Lincolnshire Council voted in favour of the new ground, just months after voting against it, and, by February 2002, the last planning hurdle was removed as the government office for Yorkshire and Humberside withdrew its objection to the stadium’s inclusion in the Local Plan.

In April of that year, it was revealed that the new £14-million home of Grimsby Town would be called the Conoco Stadium and plans seemed to be coming together that would see the Mariners have a new home in time for the start of the 2003/04 season.

The petro-chemical giant was understood to have paid £1 million for the ten-year naming rights to the new 21,000 all-seater stadium, set to be built off the A180 near Great Coates.

The proposed move to a new ground came under fierce opposition from the people of Great Coates but it was seen as necessary to help the club compete in the higher echelons of English football. At the time, the Mariners were in the old Division One – now the Championship – and had flirted briefly with promotion to the Premier League but had since got caught in a relegation battle that they would ultimately lose the following season.

By the end of 2002, the planned move had stalled as Woolworths and B&Q pulled out of the project, with the build reliant on retailer support. Developer Gerald Knight also said the plans were “currently not viable” but pledged to build the stadium by 2005.

Further obstacles emerged in 2003 with the owner of the Great Coates site refusing to release the land and, in April, planning permission was refused.

The dream didn’t die, however, and a new planning application was submitted in 2006 for a 20,000-seater stadium with a commercial development, 1,300-bay car park and 700-space park-and-ride facility.

The following year, outline planning approval was given for the stadium and it looked like it might finally happen.

However, the plans eventually ebbed away and planning permission expired in November 2010. The club did not seek to renew it.

Choosing a new site

In 2011, Grimsby Town bosses reaffirmed their commitment to finding a new home for the club, insisting it was the only way to secure the Mariners’ future.

A number of locations were considered which, by 2015, had reached a total of 16 potential contenders.

They included the Grimsby Docks area, a site near to Europarc off the A180, the former Tioxide plant site, land next to Morrisons on the A46, and the Dockside area off Garth Lane.

The sites that were considered for a new Grimsby Town stadium in 2015 before Peaks Parkway was selected as the preferred option
The sites that were considered for a new Grimsby Town stadium in 2015 before Peaks Parkway was selected as the preferred option
However, it was a patch of land off Peaks Parkway near Scartho Road Cemetery that gained the most traction.

Peaks Parkway

After a few years of murmurings, in November 2016 the vision for Grimsby Town’s £55 million community stadium leisure complex – including a brand new ice rink – was finally revealed, bringing the plans closer to reality.

Sport and leisure property developers Extreme Leisure released the very first images which showed how Peaks Parkway was set to be transformed with a dazzling new home for the club.

The vast complex was set to include a 14,000 capacity stadium, sports and leisure facilities including an ice rink, smaller retail units, up to 1,600 houses, fast food facilities and a 2,000-space car park.

In early 2017, councillors unanimously gave developers Extreme a five-year option to buy council-owned land for the project, subject to the necessary planning permissions being approved.

However, the plans had long been the subject of much controversy with some councillors and residents deeming the proposed location unsuitable. Opponents criticised using a greenfield site for a new development while there were also concerns about its proximity to Scartho Road Cemetery.

By October 2018, council leader Ray Oxby effectively closed the book on the project, saying that the authority considered the controversial Peaks Parkway site “off the table”.

With the dust still settling on the demolition site, eyes were now fixed on a new stadium in the area where the East Marsh high-rise tower blocks just been bulldozed.

East Marsh

The buzz for Peaks Parkway fizzled further as the council secured government support for the £67 million Greater Grimsby Town Deal making regeneration a priority and, as a result, pushing plans for a new stadium into the heart of the neglected East Marsh.

In an interview with Grimsby Live, council leader Ray Oxby said he wants to see a “stadium we can all be proud of” on the former high-rise site, adding there is “huge momentum, passion and commitment” behind the proposals.

However, in January 2019, Grimsby Town director John Fenty said he still preferred the Peaks Parkway site, believing it was the location that would be easier to develop and was affordable.

Share This Post

Post Comment