Vale Park Railway stand

Smurthwaite: Railway bar coming this summer but Lorne St work on hold…

Smurthwaite: Railway bar coming this summer but Lorne St work on hold…

In a response to an opinion piece on OVF, owner Norman Smurthwaite has given an update on ground developments.

After the Q&A with Smurthwaite, OVF editor Rob Fielding produced a piece called “Despite the Q&A the club’s finances don’t add up” and that prompted a telephone conversation between the owner and Fielding.

I have applied for planning permission for a new two-storey bar for the Railway Paddock…

It was a wide-ranging conversation on a large number of issues and this website will be producing further articles over the coming days.

The owner is adamant that the club should remain at Vale Park and not move to a new ground. He told us “I love the stadium and I enjoy working on the stadium. Some days I will help out on work around the ground.”

That ground could soon be changing as Smurthwaite revealed plans for two new developments. He told us “I have applied for planning permission for a new two-storey bar for the Railway Paddock.

“There will be post-match entertainment in it too which will be an additional revenue stream. Next season those new facilities will be in place.

“I am also moving ahead with plans for buildings at the corner of the Lorne Street and Hamil Road stand.”

When first announced this was said to be residential buildings but Smurthwaite says that they could now be “commercial developments.” He told OVF that the bar will be in place for next season.

However, the owner ruled out introducing a safe standing area at Vale Park saying that “approval would never be given” for the club to have a standing area.

Smurthwaite has also ruled out work on the Lorne Street stand for now. Smurthwaite said that one of his first acts as owner was to “put in £50,000-odd pounds of concrete work to secure the unfinished side. This was done with the help of the late CJ Bayley.”

He added “adding seats is actually the smallest cost. It would cost close to £200,000 to complete the concourse. Even though the foundations and drains etc are present, there is still considerable work on things such as the bar, the toilet blocks and so on.”

He pointed out that he had added some new seats earlier this season (something we noted in this article). Smurthwaite says the original intention was to “switch the press facilities” to that section but it was not practical to do so.

He did add that there was one possible way of completing the stand. When the subject of concerts at Vale Park was raised he told us that he “had looked into the idea” but there were problems including the fact that the stand would have to be completed to allow a concert to take place.

But he added, with tongue somewhat in cheek that if a concert paid for the price of the stand he would “definitely consider it.” However, more seriously he added that “police and council had reservations” over any concerts taking place so holding one was unlikely.

More from the owner to come including… his views on the appointment of Neil Aspin.


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