|WASPS GIVEN THE OK
(Monday 20th May 2002)
As expected Wanderers application for rugby to be played at Adams Park has been given the go-ahead by Wycombe District Council. The planning committee met on Monday evening (20th May 2002) and voted by a 12-1 majority in favour of the proposal. The vote followed a lengthy and lively debate with objections being raised by the Sands Residents Association and other local societies but with an almost united support from Councillors. One Councillor was heckled from the public gallery by Sands Residents as he suggested that the pitch share would be a benefit to the Town and local residents.
The Councillors were persuaded to vote in favour of Wycombe's application following the release of an extensive Travel Plan produced by Wycombe Wanderers. Counsel discussed the plan for over one and three quarter hours before giving Wanderers extended permission to continue using the 600 capacity 'upper car-park'. The Travel Plan, also being loosely described as a 'Green Travel Plan' includes proposals to maximise use of the car parking close to Adams Park and to encourage more fans to use Park and Ride schemes. Councillors also suggested that the 200 car-parking spaces at Adams Park allocated to Club staff should be given over to supporters and the staff and guests bused in. The introduction of 'part-time' traffic lights at the bottom of Hillbottom Road was also deemed vital to the scheme and representatives from Bucks County Council were on hand to suggest that with the financial help of the Club a consultant could be brought in to 'fast-track' the implementation before the start of the Football League season in August. The cost of the consultation and lights is estimated at £15,000.
The Club will be obliged to sign a legally binding agreement to commit to the plan that will be reviewed at regular intervals and again at the end of the initial two year agreement. Councillors scrutinised the plan and insisted that the Club were made to commit to the plan. It was suggested by one Councillor that this was "Crunch time for the Club and with success comes responsibilty. We have the difficult task of balancing the twin pulls of the local residents and the Town as a whole, and it is a difficult". It looked at one point that the Club might pay for the years of neglect in consulatation and the implementation of any sensible improvements to the traffic chaos at Adams Park but Wanderers Chief Executive Simon Monkman put the Club's view forward, saying his was working from a blank sheet and adding "This is a chance in a lifetime for the Club and I give my guarantee to work in harmony with the local community."
Monkman met directly after the meeting to sign a 29 page tenancy agreement with his Wasps counterpart for a ground leasing agreement that will kick-off when the Zurich Premiership 2002/3 season opens in September. Wanderers are set to receive £300,000 rent in the first year and £312,000 in the second year, with Wasps having the option of extending the contract. In addition, Wycombe would be given £250,000 up front by the rugby club to help fund the cost of the new 'desso' pitch and undersoil heating, the total cost of which is estimated at £500,000. Wanderers will have priority on fixtures and could ask Wasps to move games if necessary. Wasps would play a maximum of 18 games per season at Adams Park and would keep the gate receipts but Wanderers would receive a large percentage of the tea-bar, bars, hospitality and car parking income.
Wasps games would typically kick-off at 3pm on Sunday's with the occasiocal game on Friday evening, subject to live television deals. During the period of the agreement, the regular Sunday car-boot sales at Adams Park would be suspended. During the same planning meeting, Wanderers were given a one year extension to continue using their temporary Club Shop situated in the lower car-park.
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