WOKING FC has taken another step forward in its ambitions to transform its Kingfield stadium to English Football League standards, coupled with the building of new homes in the surrounding land.
Woking Borough Council announced on Tuesday this week that it has entered into an agreement with the club and the developers GolDev Woking Ltd allowing for the development of the Laithwaite Community Stadium and adjoining land.
Details of the proposals will be developed during consultation with Cards supporters and local residents but it is understood to involve turning the stadium into a larger facility that would allow the club to aim for promotion at least up to League One.
The ground currently holds a maximum of 6,000 fans, with 2,500 of those seated.
According to one estimate, upgrading the Cards’ home could cost £10 million and would be financed by building nearly 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space.
The News & Mail reported in April last year that the council had reached an agreement with GolDev on plans that have their roots in 2002.
With much-speculation over the size of the scheme and stadium specification, the overall development “will consider the reconfiguration of the football ground and construction of residential properties”.
However, plans to house an initial 10,000 all-seater stadium could be reduced by as much as 20% to 25% to be more in-keeping with the local area, but potentially allow for more non-matchday commercial opportunities that will make the project deliverables sustainable.
Commenting on the agreement announced this week, Rosemary Johnson, chairman of Woking FC, said: “This is a really exciting time for Woking Football Club and our supporters. We are an ambitious community-focused club with huge potential, shown by our recent FA Cup run.
“Whilst there is still a long way to go, these agreements signify the next chapter for our football club. Not only do they secure the long-term future of Woking Football Club, but will also enable us to continue and develop our much-valued community work.”
Speaking in a separate interview, Johnson added; “It’s a very complex project as you can imagine. There are a number of different stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project from inception through to completion.
“Ultimately, it’s about encapsulating the history of Woking Football Club within a modern framework. However, if the ground is too clinical, you can lose that history, so it’s about being ambitious, but considered. It’s about taking fans and the local community on the journey with you.”
Cllr David Bittleston, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Supporting the club’s long-term vision and securing its immediate financial future through these agreements will bring many benefits to the whole community.”
Wayne Gold, managing director of GolDev Woking Ltd, said: “With the agreements now in place, we will be reaching to supporters and the local community to help put together a detailed proposal that reflects the future ambitions of both the club and the town. It is important to us that their voice is heard ahead of submitting our formal planning application. The future is very exciting.”
Any proposed redevelopment of the Kingfield site is unlikely to commence until at least 2021, which could see both the David Lloyd as well as the gymnastics club being relocated before football takes precedent.
For the full story and interview with Chairman Rosemary Johnson, get the latest edition of the News and Mail (Feb 7th).