COUNCILLOR Chris Mitchell maintains “Perdiswell is not the right place” for Worcester City’s stadium – but insists any push for a land transfer will get a fair hearing. 

Worcester City Council's planning chair held the casting vote when the club’s supporters’ trust got denied permission for a 4,400-capacity ground in July 2017 – more than three years after applying.

City councillor Mitchell held the casting vote when the homeless club’s supporters’ trust got denied permission for a 4,400-capacity ground in July 2017 – more than three years after applying.

It led to City’s board opting to pursue a new project at Parsonage Way that was deemed unfeasible by council officers in July 2018.

Then-chairman Anthony Hampson stood down in the wake of that decision with four new directors, all with links to the supporters’ trust, taking up posts on the board.

The trust’s appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over Perdiswell was then upheld, pushing the proposed site firmly back on the agenda with in-principle support from Labour councillor Adrian Gregson.

It led to Mitchell's initial call being labelled ideological by City fans with Gregson suggesting “there is a question mark now over whether the chair of planning should continue”.

Gregson claims he is “much closer to agreeing with a deal” over the use of the council-owned land at Perdiswell “than my political opponents are” because “Green and Conservative politicians in that area are opposed to the club being there”.

But Mitchell remains adamant his reasons for rejection were based on planning considerations only – and his thinking has not changed.

He argued the council had gone "out of its way" and cited the passing of a planning application for Nunnery Way that ended up not coming to fruition.

“My view is the club needs to develop a compelling business case that convinces the council of their ability to build a stadium, regardless of where it is,” said Mitchell.

“I am still reluctant over the loss of green space in the Perdiswell area. I think we don’t have enough of it around the city and it would take a compelling business case to convince me otherwise.

“I think we have looked at 10 different sites with the club, all of which they said would not work.

“It depends on the size of stadium they want. In truth, I don’t think it is my job or that of the council to find a location for the club. I don’t know the full detail of what they want to achieve but if they come up with some ideas we can help them.

“To date, I have seen no evidence that the football club has the financial viability to build and more importantly sustain itself at a new stadium – wherever that is.

“I do not want to see a stadium built in the city that is then abandoned because the club is not sustainable.

“In a meeting over the Nunnery Way application, the chairman (Hampson) said in answer to one of my questions that the club was financially viable and had the money to build the stadium.

“Having been awarded the application and then failed to do so (build), their track record is not good in my view.

“I am not against Worcester City Football Club per se but believe Perdiswell is not the right place.

“This is no longer a planning issue. Now the finances, community aspects and the kind of things not reviewed at planning come into it.

“I am a business man. If someone comes forward with a plan that’s workable then I will give it a fair hearing.”

Mitchell added he did not "believe the council should be renting, selling or otherwise providing council facilities below the market value".

Asked whether that stance could change under a community-ownership model, Mitchell replied: “I would be very willing to look at it and see what evidence there would be of that benefiting the local community.

“That might give it a different view but I don’t know the details of that and can’t comment until I do.”