Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 07:42 UK

Falmer opening put back for year

Plans for Falmer Stadium
The new design for the stadium has more room for seating

The opening of Brighton and Hove Albion's new football stadium has been put back for a year, with the club blaming "delays beyond its control".

The club has previously said it wanted the first game to be played at its new Falmer stadium in August 2010. Now it says it will not be until August 2011.

Chairman Dick Knight apologised to fans, saying he knew the delay would come as a big disappointment.

He blamed new health and safety and disability access planning regulations.

And he said there had been problems with gaining access to the site.

The initial planning application for the 22,000-seater stadium on land north of Village Way was submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council in 2001.

It was accepted by the government in July 2007 after a High Court challenge and two public inquiries.

But new regulations forced the club to submit fresh plans, which have yet to be approved.

Until Thursday's announcement, it had denied reports that the original tight deadline could not be met.

"Factors beyond our control will delay us by several months," said Mr Knight.

The stadium is going ahead and supporters will see us on site by the end of the year
Dick Knight

"Therefore we have reluctantly made the decision to put the project back by one season.

"The delay would have taken us to December 2010 at the earliest, but we cannot realistically move in mid-season."

He said the stadium would not be affected by the economic climate, which has already put other building projects in jeopardy, including the multi-million scheme for the King Alfred leisure centre in Hove.

"Let no-one be in any doubt. The stadium is going ahead and supporters will see us on site by the end of the year," he said.

The club has now taken over responsibility for the stadium site and said work would start on widening Village Way in December.

It has appointed the Buckingham Group to build the stadium.

The company built the new Milton Keynes Dons stadium and members of its team worked on Reading's Madejski Stadium and at Old Trafford for Manchester United.




SEE ALSO
Falmer work to start in December
13 Jun 08 |  Brighton
Falmer objectors abandon battle
15 Aug 07 |  Sussex
Seagulls cautious at stadium news
24 Jul 07 |  Brighton
Fans mark 10-year stadium fight
26 Apr 07 |  Sussex

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