Leading north-east business groups come out in support of new £50million Dons stadium

Two leading north-east business groups have thrown their weight behind plans to relocate the Dons to a £50million new home.

The Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) has written a letter of support on the proposals to replace Pittodrie with a new, 20,000-seater stadium at Kingsford, between Westhill and Kingswells.

It comes as Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald announced his support for Aberdeen FC’s plans.

The Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association (ACSHA) has also come out in support of the proposed move in a written submission to Aberdeen City Council.

In a letter of support to the local authority website, chief executive of the AGCC, Russell Borthwick, said the organisation’s economic forecast showed the club’s impact on the economy would increase by 66% to £20million if the move went ahead.

He added: “We are pro-development at AGCC and we believe this is a critical project. The delivery of a new stadium has been a long running saga but we appear to be moving to a feasible and economically viable solution.

“With no city centre site seemingly available it is clear that now is the time to act on the current proposed development.

“Not passing the proposals will be to the detriment of the future success of the club.

“And perhaps more importantly for non-fans, such a decision will create confusion and reduced confidence in the investor community and send out the message once again that our region is not progressive nor open for business.”

The new stadium would feature 1,300 parking spaces, three first team training pitches, two community ones and a pavilion which would include offices, changing rooms and a gym.

Mr McDonald said, having scrutinised the plans, he concluded they would be “fantastic” and allow for the “excellent” work of the Aberdeen FC Community Trust to expand.

He added: “For me this decision has been well thought through, as I know the importance of considering the potential challenges in any major development.

“I am aware of concerns about the impact a new stadium may have on traffic and parking management in nearby streets, but I am confident that the plans the club have to implement parking restrictions, similar to those that exist around Pittodrie on match days at present, will ensure residents are not inconvenienced.”

He added the stadium would provide the “sort of boost Aberdeen needs”.

George Yule, executive vice-chairman of Aberdeen FC, welcomed the support and said the stadium could be “a catalyst for long term growth across the city and shire”.

The Aberdeen City and Shire Hotels Association (ACSHA) has also backed the plans for the stadium, saying the development will inspire “confidence” in the hospitality and tourism sector.

In a letter of support to the council, chairman Gary Atkinson, said: “The hotel and hospitality sector has suffered badly from the downturn in oil and gas over the past two years and we fully support any plans which will shift the over-reliance from this industry and encourage other key sectors, such as sports and leisure, which will help sustain and grow our economy across the city and shire.

“The proposed training, community and stadium facilities at Kingsford, represent a £50million private sector investment in the region at a time when we urgently need investment and economic stimulus.

“Therefore the plans at Kingsford would send out a strong signal that our region is open for business and has confidence in our future.

“This much-needed confidence will spill over into other sectors, including hospitality and tourism – both of which are vital to the future sustainability of this area and our ability to attract incomers, and basic ingredient of the City Deal.”

The plans have been met with opposition by many locals, who have concerns about the effects of noise pollution, loss of greenbelt land and the impact on local roads and walkways.

And last week, Aberdeenshire Council planners warned there are a number of issues which need to be addressed within the plans.

North-east Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles has come out in opposition of the plans, whilst Tory Peter Chapman is supporting them.