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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July 2004, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Albion stadium plan put on hold
The planned new stadium
The club applied for permission to build the stadium in 2001
Brighton and Hove Albion faces a further wait for a decision on its planned new stadium.

The government has said the inquiry into stadium plans is to re-open - with seven site options listed for consideration in the Brighton area.

Permission for a 23,000-seater stadium at Falmer had been sought by the club.

Club chairman Dick Knight said the news was frustrating but said it was important for fans to remember the application had not been refused.

Alternative sites

The Seagulls have been without a permanent home since the Goldstone Ground closed seven years ago and have played at the Withdean stadium - an athletics track in the city - since 1999.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott had been due to rule on whether the ground could be built following the public inquiry last year.

He has accepted our arguments that there is a vital need for a community stadium and that this is a matter of national importance
Brighton chairman Dick Knight

Sites to be considered in the fresh inquiry are Brighton Station; Brighton Greyhound Stadium; Shoreham Harbour; Sheepcote Valley; Toad's Hole Valley; Waterhall; and the Withdean stadium.

Falmer has not been ruled out.

The chosen site will have to be in the Brighton and Hove area and be a realistic proposition for acquisition, according to criteria set out by Mr Prescott's office.

Sites will also be judged in terms of size, development costs, safety and planning issues, transport links, and environmental and visual impact.

A sign supporting the stadium plans

The club applied for planning permission to build the stadium in Falmer in 2001.

The city council and local MPs backed the scheme, but some Falmer residents objected as did environmentalists who argued the site was in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Mr Knight said if Mr Prescott agreed with them "he would have said 'no' already".

He added: "He has accepted our arguments that there is a vital need for a community stadium and that this is a matter of national importance.

"He has recognised that Brighton and Hove Albion should not be forced to seek a land outside its heartland for over 100 years, and on that we see eye to eye!"

The club's chief executive Martin Perry said: "We have heard our opponents say often that there is another site.

"They are now going to have to identify a site and demonstrate that it is realistic and works - in short, it is time for them to put up or shut up."

Brighton council leader, Cllr Ken Bodfish, said: "If we have to do it all again to convince Mr Prescott that Falmer is the only viable option, then we're happy to do so.

"All alternative sites have serious problems. By contrast, Falmer meets all the criteria he lists."

The Albion were promoted to the Championship - the new name for the former Division One - through the play-offs in May, when about 30,000 Brighton fans headed to Cardiff for the final.

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