Bid to redevelop former home of Rushden & Diamonds FC turned down

Nene Park in Irthlingborough.
Nene Park in Irthlingborough.
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A bid to demolish the former Nene Park home of Rushden & Diamonds FC and turn it into a retail development has been turned down.

Conalgen Enterprises SA submitted two applications for redevelopment of the site in Irthlingborough at the end of last year.

They wanted to demolish the existing football stadium and build a new retail and leisure development with shops, an eight-screen cinema, 60-bed hotel, restaurants and a new community football facility along with access and parking.

But the plans were refused by East Northants Council at a planning meeting last night (Wednesday).

Objections were received on behalf of seven households as well as several organisations and local authorities.

Concerns raised by neighbours included the loss of sport facilities, proposals to provide community football were inadequate, the stadium should be retained for sport and other activities and it could be redeveloped in a better way.

Others who have objected include AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Ellandi LLP which owns the Newlands Shopping Centre in Kettering, Swansgate Property Ltd which is the owner of Wellingborough’s Swansgate Centre, Asda Stores Ltd which is building a new store in Raunds, Irthlingborough Town Council, Wellingborough Council and the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit.

A report prepared for councillors said: “The harm arising from the proposal, to the vitality and viability of the town centres and the failure to demonstrate the development would be safe with respect to flood risk is considered to outweigh the benefits of the scheme, including the re-use of a redundant brownfield site, creation of a significant number of jobs and provision of facilities.”

The decision also denied proposals by the Northamptonshire FA, which wanted to relocate from Northampton to Higham Ferrers with money as part of the Section 106 planning agreement for the Nene Park redevelopment to put towards replacement pitches.

The ground was the home of the Diamonds until they went into liquidation in 2011.

Arch-rivals Kettering Town moved in, but the Poppies left following a 7-0 home defeat by Bashley in October 2012.