The millionaire chairman of a Fylde football club has urged councillors to back plans for an £18m sports and science park.
Just weeks after AFC Fylde won promotion to the Conference North, two steps from the Football League, David Haythornthwaite said the support of Fylde Council to develop a purpose-built base for the club will help its push towards the Football League.
He said the complex, which would include a 6,000 capacity stadium and an Aldi food store in Fleetwood Road, Wesham, is “95 per cent sure” to be heard at Fylde Council’s planning meeting on June 4 and added: “We know the people of Kirkham and Wesham are behind the project.
“We are two steps from our goal from when we started six years ago. We have had five promotions from the West Lancashire League.
“But these are big steps. We are playing with the big boys. But we have got a fantastic manager (Dave Challinor).
“If the council can let us develop, it will help.
“When you look at Fylde Rugby Club and Lytham Cricket Club looking to sell off assets it just goes to show this sort of development is needed.
“We will need to do certain things to our Warton ground for going up. We will have to invest a little bit more money.
“It puts us on the national stage and map.
“We are playing the likes of Stockport County, Chester and Barrow – they are big names.”
A similar scheme for Wrea Green was rejected by Fylde Council’s planning committee in 2012, but Mr Haythornthwaite said the new site, which would include a sports science building, a full-size sports pitch, a training ground, a hotel, a petrol station and a drive-through restaurant, was supported by residents, despite an opposition group being established when plans were revealed.
He added: “I think it is certainly a lot less controversial than the Wrea Green application. Compared to Wrea Green we have had limited opposition. Independent research due to be released soon shows 76 per cent of people in the area are in favour of the scheme.
“We know that the people of Kirkham and Wesham are behind the project.”
In December, a meeting organised by Coun Alan Clayton saw more than 200 residents discuss the project in Wesham.
Coun Clayton said: “The mood of the meeting went in two directions. One was the supporters of AFC Fylde, but the other was concerns from residents about traffic and the vast scale of it compared to the area it is in.
“There is still much information to consider ahead of next month’s planning meeting.”