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Amex land uncertainty
Fresh concerns have been raised over the long-term future of the land next to the American Express Community Stadium.
Opposition councillors say they fear that the Green administration have “rowed back” on an agreement to allow the land to be used by Brighton and Hove Albion and the Bridge Community Centre.
However, council leader Jason Kitcat said that his administration were following legal obligations by opening up the land at Falmer to all bidders and said there could be no exclusivity deal to any party for the permanent use of the land.
Councillors were told at a committee meeting on Thursday, November 15, that preparations were under way to “test the market” to find a long-term developer for the land at the former Falmer High School.
The original plans had been put on hold in December last year after the Green administration overruled the car park going ahead days before it was due to be signed.
They were accused at the time of reneging on a promise made to the club by the previous Tory administration allowing the club to use the land.
Coun Kitcat said that no trace of a formal agreement with the previous Tory administration was located when the Greens took over in 2011 and that they were keeping to the three-year agreement made in April for the temporary use of the site as a 680-space car park and for the Bridge Community Centre.
Mr Kitcat said the council would seek to get the best value from the land for the city and that Brighton and Hove Albion were welcome to enter the bidding process but there could be no exclusivity deal for the site.
He added: "We have always been clear that we see the football club as a key partner in the future of the Falmer Released Land.
“We remain committed to the success of the growing Albion football club and Amex Community Stadium as well as the Bridge Community Centre. Along with the neighbouring BACA school they are key stakeholders. However, the council legally must follow a proper process which gets best value for taxpayers.”
Move Albion forward
Labour deputy leader Councillor Warren Morgan said: “Everyone believed the Greens running the council had agreed to this, but now there are fears they may have gone back on their word.
“Labour on the city council will do everything we can to hold the Greens to their promise and not let them once again oppose the Albion moving forward.”
Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald urged the council resolve the issue as soon as possible and feared it could jeopardise the work of the Bridge Community Centre.
He added: “It has always been my understanding that an agreement had been reached between the Council Administration and Brighton and Hove Albion about the development of the retained land at Falmer.
“If that was the case then it is wrong for the Greens to now row back on that agreement as they appear to be doing.”
Jayne Ross,from the Bridge Community Centre, said: “It’s our understanding that there will be development on the land which will include the permanent site for The Bridge.
“We hope these proposals and agreement will be resolved relatively quickly to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Bridge.
“Any lengthy delay in any development could potentially affect our funding situation.”
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