Old Saltergate or brand new home?

THE words “redevelopment” and “relocation” are nothing new to Chesterfield fans.

For years, the club has debated whether to stay at Saltergate – its home since 1871 – or to move to a new, purpose-built stadium.

Plans have come and gone, consigned to history or thrown out by council planners, while Saltergate has slipped into disrepair.

Now, at last, the club looks set to build for the future, with five options to be debated by the 3,200 fans who make up its owners, the Chesterfield Football Supporters Society.

Architect Terry Ward, of Ward McHugh, Sheffield, has drawn up plans for both a new-look Saltergate and another stadium design – with a 12,000-14,000 capacity – which could be built on any of the other four sites.

Ideally, Spireites want a 40-acre site which could include a School of Excellence/Football Academy and full training facilities which could be used by community groups and public.

The CFSS is still adding up the costs. However, while funds would be availaible from the Football Foundation and other possible grants, they anticipate a funding shortfall which would have to be made up.

Funding options could depend on which site is chosen. For example, Chesterfield Borough Council has previously offered 1 million towards a ground development in the borough, while the East Midlands Development Agency could back other sites.

The CFSS aims to have enough information to share with members at a public meeting on April 23 and members will then be ballotted.

So what are the options – and what are the pros and cons?

* Saltergate

The “spiritual home” of Chesterfield FC – and believed to be the oldest senior league football ground in the world – Saltergate is still the favourite choice of many fans. Planning permission has already been granted for redevelopment and over 300,000 recently spent on upgrading terracing. Space is limited because the ground is hemmed in by roads to all four sides - which would not allow a stadium and training/community facilties all on one site. But an alternative site could provide these facilities. The plan for a 14,000-capacity Saltergate earmarks the Kop for the main development – either all-seater or combined seating/standing – with refurbishment of the main stand and new stands on the Cross Street and Compton Street terrace.

* Wheeldon Mill

A plot of land has been gifted to the CFSS by businessman Frank Sissons. A former greyhound-racing stadium, the site was refused planning permission four years ago when a new stadium was proposed along with other leisure and commercial projects. However, planners stressed then there would have been no planning objections to a “stand alone” football stadium.

* Wingerworth Coking Plant

A huge expanse of land close to the town but under North East Derbyshire District Council. The land is being reclaimed and cleaned. Could attract other development grants.

* Bryan Donkin Site

Former heavy engineering works on the edge of the town centre, planners recently turned down planning permission for supermarket giant Asda. Space may be limited.

* Junction 29a

Planned new junction off the M1 near Markham Colliery with a 200-plus-acre development potential. Earmarked by Derbyshire County Council for regeneration which could mean funds would be available.