COUNCILLOR Louis Stephen insists the “overwhelming” opposition of Perdiswell residents will continue to shape his thinking on Worcester City’s stadium plans.

The Green Party representative argued it would be “wrong to impose” a ground for City on people from the St Stephen-ward site with the “size and scale” making it “difficult to support”.

City’s supporters’ trust secured planning permission through a successful appeal to the Planning Inspectorate but has just three years to start work on the council-owned land.

Stephen made public his opposition to the proposals during hustings for a parliamentary election in 2015, meaning he could not vote when it went to Worcester City Council’s planning committee.

The rejection, secured through chair Chris Mitchell’s casting vote, was overturned in September but fans still fear a land transfer will be opposed by Green and Conservative politicians.

Any land transfer decision would have to be sanctioned by a majority of 35 city councillors.

Labour’s Adrian Gregson said he is “much closer to agreeing with a deal over the use of that land for the club than my political opponents are” but that backing would rest on City being a “viable business entity”.

Mitchell maintains “Perdiswell is not the right place” for the stadium and that City needs to “develop a compelling business case that convinces the council of their ability to build a stadium, regardless of where it is”.

In November 2016, Worcester News revealed 1,603 people had been invited to take part in a public consultation over the plans. A total 374 objections came back with 1,008 letters of support.

The findings amounted to 23 per cent of people formally objecting but Stephen is steadfast those living nearby must remain at the heart of council thinking.

“There is a lot of opposition from local residents and I think it is wrong to impose something they are not willing to support. That was my position at the time and that has not changed,” he said.

“One of the biggest guides for us is about supporting local people. We are not talking about a few, we are talking about hundreds that are extremely worried about the proposal.

“We support the football club coming home and we need to find a site for that to happen. It is possible a smaller scheme could be incorporated somewhere in the city.

“It is the size and scale that makes it difficult to support. A number of sites put forward were discounted because of the size but if a smaller scheme were to be put forward, more sites may be suitable.”

Asked whether his stance over a land transfer for the current plans could be altered by community benefits, Stephen said: “My position would be the same as before in that I would listen to and support local residents.

“The overwhelming view of local residents is that they don’t support it and while that remains the case then I would back them and not support it.”

Addressing accusations that decisions had been swayed by the desire to retain council seats, Stephen said: “We try to do our best by the residents of Worcester.

“We do hold one of the council seats in St Stephen and obviously, we would try to take those views into consideration when making decisions based on the evidence before us.”

City’s cash reserves have dwindled significantly since the Perdiswell application first went in with the team playing three levels lower than at that time.

Gregson suggested City may require a new planning application should the scale of the development get scaled down.

“To date I have not been given any additional changes to the proposals,” said Stephen.

“To the extent of my knowledge as it stands today I don’t change my position over the original scheme but would hold no prejudice over any future proposals.

“We would have to look at every planning application on its merits and with an open mind.”