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Worthing have their impressive stadium upgrade plans approved by borough council

Worthing, who are in the National League South playoffs, have their impressive stadium upgrade plans approved by the borough council.

The Rebels are getting a new, covered, north grandstand at their Woodside Road stadium with proposals, including a new toilet, a food and drink building in the northwest corner of the ground and new roof coverings for the west stand and the uncovered section of the northeast stand.

Safety concerns in March 2023 led to the removal of roof coverings over the west terrace, with intentions to replace them with a larger covering.

The maximum capacity of the north stand will increase from 940 people to approximately 1,818, including five disabled seats.

A gantry is set to be installed in the centre of the stand for TV crews.

Various conditions were approved for the plans, such as ensuring disabled parking and conducting additional traffic surveys if the club achieves promotion.

(New north stand below)

Worthing FC stadium plans approved - BBC News

Worthing Football Club | LinkedIn

(New West End above)

The Local Democracy Reporting Service state that over 20 objections were issued by residents, mainly relating to concerns about overdevelopment, parking loss, and heightened traffic congestion due to the possibility of larger crowds.

According to the proposals, Worthing mentioned that approximately 70% of local fans would utilise public transportation to attend games, while the remaining percentage would arrive by car.

Additionally, it was noted that many supporters gather before matches to walk to the stadium, and visiting fans might opt to stay overnight in the town to do the same.

Furthermore, three letters of endorsement were included, emphasising that an increase in spectators would benefit local businesses and raise Worthing’s profile.

Worthing club chairman Barry Hunter said, per Sussex Express: “We were very pleased with the support the council showed us. It was a unanimous decision by the planning committee, which we fully appreciate.

“We recognise we have to be a good neighbour. There are a number of conditions we have to navigate through, which are all manageable.

“It’s fairly standard stuff to ensure we are mitigating noise and looking at local travel, local parking arrangements to make sure we are doing everything we can to support the council in managing traffic in the area. We absolutely wanted to help.

“Ultimately, the decision to support this was very well received by the football club.”

He then explained that FA guidelines stipulate that Woodside Road must have the capacity to hold 4,000 people with National League ambitions in mind.

“It will be very rare we ever have that crowd in the ground,” the club chairman admitted. “I don’t think we will see huge increases on current levels.

“They are the rules and we have to make sure we have a ground that’s fit for purpose.

“This development is part of what we call, internally, a ‘National League ready strategy’. We are trying to get the club, all round, to be fit for purpose to compete one day in the National League.

“One of the things we have to do is make sure our stadium is able to host a 4,000 capacity crowd. At the moment, we’re just over 3,000 so this will enable that capacity to happen. The stand will hold something like 1,900 supporters standing.”

He said a priority has been to ‘improve the supporter experience’.

He added: “With this stand in the north, three quarters of the ground will be undercover, which is really important to us. We want to make sure our supporters get a much better experience when they come to the club.

“We haven’t finalised the cost of this yet but it’s going to be a significant six-figure sum. Last year we announced we had secured investment into the club with a new minority shareholder, Gilbert Investments.

“The investment they made into the club is being used 100 per cent to develop the stadium. That’s what this is for.”

Worthing’s chairman has reassured residents that it will be a ‘good neighbour’ after plans were approved to upgrade the Woodside Road ground.

General manager Keith Mitchell said: “The original design approval was granted back in October last year, and the as-built variations are minimal, hence the requirement for an amendment. The materials used haven’t changed from the original, but the stand is 20m smaller than we have previous consent to build.

“We have met with the [concerned] residents and are working with them to address their concerns.”

A Worthing Borough Council spokesperson said: “On April 17, the council’s planning committee approved planning applications for the north stand and west stand of Worthing FC’s ground in Woodside Road, subject to a number of conditions.

“The committee is made up of councillors but is apolitical. It considers issues such as the impact of developments on traffic, potential increases in noise and safety. Our planning officers provide advice on developments using their expertise in planning law and planning policy.

“The planning committee makes its decisions based on the information and arguments made in public for and against any such development, from members of the community and bodies like the local highway authority and Sussex Police.”

Social media users reacted as Worthing have their impressive stadium upgrade plans approved by borough council…

@BradStrat: Unanimously approved at the Council planning meeting some of us attended last week ❤️ Great to see the support for a long needed development at Woodside that will enhance the experience for everyone.

@Hotchi1idog: Fantastic news!

Steve Cogdell: Good luck and forza worthing. Wish whitehawk had ambition like you lads…😉👍

Jason Lee: rather like the look of this, hope they get promotion

Adam Edwards: Love the story behind the club

Oli Cooper: Oh wow now those designs are pretty cool

Rory Ledson: well done to the club for getting this approved – good things keep on happening!

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