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Fingers crossed as 8th tier club put in fourth bid to move into unused and derelict stadium

Fans have their fingers crossed as 8th tier club Grays Athletic put in a fourth bid to move into an unused and derelict stadium.

The Isthmian League North Division outfit is now part of a fourth formal request to build a car-preparation plant on the site which was once the home former club Thurrock FC.

Two applications for Group One Automotive were rejected, and Thurrock Council refused to grant permission for a third application.

A fourth application, however, has been submitted to council planners. This time Grays Athletic is a formal partner.

A submission from JMS Planning and Development, representing the car company and Grays Athletic, says: “The applicant has taken legal advice and made changes to the application.

“Rather than making a number of minor changes to the schemed to try and create points of difference, the applicant has now focussed on certain key matters to address the council’s previous concerns.

“In addition the applicant has responded directly to advice from officers and now made Frays Athletic Football Club a joint applicant.”

Another change is that the plans are to contribute to sporting facilities by allocating half of a million pounds for developing Belhus Park facilities. A separate application was made to create a 3G artificial pitch at Belhus Park to be operated as a community facility by Impulse Leisure.

Mr Julian Sutton, who has presented previous applications to the council on behalf of Group One Automotive, adds: “It is requested that the two applications be presented to the planning committee in tandem and the development of the application proposals at Ship Lane be legally tied to the creation of the new 3G football pitch at Belhus Golf and Country Park.”

In 2020, the plan was first proposed. However, Thurrock Council rejected the proposal in February 2021 due to the adverse traffic impact the scheme would have on Aveley Road and the impact it would have on the greenbelt. The second bid was rejected, and the third did not make it to the debate stage.

The new plans, which you can read here, are felt by the developers to have addressed the concerns raised by local planners during previous objections.

Two years ago saw fans left furious on social media as the club learned of the council’s decision regarding the use of a defunct stadium.

The council’s planning committee met to discuss the planning application for the Ship Lane stadium development, and the final decision went down badly.

A statement was issued, reading: “Grays Athletic Football Club are disappointed that the Thurrock Planning Committee voted to reject The Ship Lane planning application submitted by Group 1 Automotive.

“During the Committee Meeting, there were a number of inaccurate statements aired about our football club and we will ensure that the appropriate people are corrected.

“The club will consult with Group 1 in the next few days and will make a more detailed statement shortly afterwards.”

They added: “The morning after the night before. Like many of our supporters we wake feeling angry, confused but with a sense that justice will prevail. As our chairman says we are the club that refuses to die and we will fight our cause to the end. It is time now for us all to come together”

This is what fans had to say as as 8th tier club put in a fourth bid to move into an unused and derelict stadium…

@keely_john: This has got to be a win win for Al parties. Yes ?

@kevinjscott28: Let’s hope the council do the sensible thing.

@Just_Dan92: @thurrockcouncil are useless just let Grays have a home… especially after the previous chairman took our original home…

@silva_starz: Hope it finally succeeds for you!

@KsOllieU: Seriously why are @thurrockcouncil saying no. Let @GraysAthleticFC move there

@Jabbs2Jamie: Maybe @thurrockcouncil can stop being stupid and inept and grant permission this time!

@SharonCampen: There is no problem with the football ground it is the car plant if they really wanted to the car company could give it to Grays it is already a football ground so no change of use etc????

@mebaker2001: Make it happen 🙏

@marowe1988: Come on @thurrockcouncil. Stop being useless and help a club use q ground for the community that currently lays empty.

@arber_boy: This must happen. It’s a total waste of a good ground and needs to be in the hands of such a great club asap.

@Speedingalong: Keep pushing forward im sure Grays Ath will find a home soon.

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