Council to agree handing problematic lease over to Northampton Town... days after the chairman threatened to walk out over the matter

The handover of a problematic lease preventing the development of the East Stand at Sixfields is now set to go ahead.
The handover of a problematic lease preventing the development of the East Stand at Sixfields is now set to go ahead.

The rights to develop a parcel of land next to Sixfields stadium are set to be handed to Northampton Town Football Club in a move that could finally clear the way for a stadium expansion

Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet is set to confirm arrangements for a lease on land adjacent to the East Stand to be "regularised" at Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

Club chairman Kelvin Thomas threatened to walk out a fortnight ago because of delays in the lease handover.

Club chairman Kelvin Thomas threatened to walk out a fortnight ago because of delays in the lease handover.

The move would effectively transfer control of the parcel of land to the club, providing a "clean site" to enable the development of the stand.

In 2004, Northampton Borough Council leased Sixfields Stadium and the adjacent running track to Northampton Town Football Club.

Then in 2013, the club was requested to surrender part of the running track land back to the council as part of a deal to secure the future of the club and facilitate the construction of the new stand.

As part of this transaction, the Cardoza-owned County Developments Northampton Ltd (CDNL) took a lease on the running track site.

It subsequently transpired that not all the land should have been transferred and CDNL asked the council to accept a surrender of its lease on part of the site to enable the construction of the stand to be completed.

The council has since been in discussions with the football club to progress the surrender, though tensions between the two parties have recently frayed.

Last month Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas even threatened to walk away from the club because of what he said was a "complete lack of action, co-operation or communication from Northampton Borough Council" around the transfer.

However, the cabinet paper on Wednesday could finally see the impasse preventing the stadium development cleared.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: “We have been clear all along that our focus has been to enable any future stand development and we are happy to regularise the lease to make this happen.

“Our agreement to solve this issue has most recently been discussed with the club in productive dialogue, hence bringing this to cabinet next week to get it concluded.”

The Cabinet meeting will take place at the Guildhall from 6pm next Wednesday, June 13.

The papers going to the meeting have revealed that neither the 2004 lease or the lease granted to CDNL in 2013 enabled either party to carry out a commercial development of the relevant land due to restrictions in the terms of the leases.

The 2004 lease restricts the use to “a Community Stadium and ancillary Athletics Track and Facility for the Provision and Facilitation of Sport" and any change in this would require the consent of the council.

The effect of the surrender of the land will be to return that land to the status it held prior to 2013, paving the way for Kelvin Thomas and his ownership consortium to build on the land.