Plans for the redevelopment of Wheldon Road, home of Super League club Castleford Tigers, have been recommended for approval and will be discussed at Wakefield Council’s planning committee meeting on February 15.
The redevelopment will be funded by a new Axiom employment site, which has also been recommended for approval. If planning is approved for both projects, the circa £200m (€234m/$252m) Axiom proposals will deliver new employment, logistics and manufacturing floorspace.
The Axiom site will provide around 1,830 permanent full-time jobs in Castleford, along with a further 365 ‘spin-off’ jobs within the Wakefield Council area. During construction, around 1,500 on and off-site jobs per year are likely to be generated at the Wheldon Road and Axiom sites.
The Axiom proposals would provide £12.2m of funding towards upgrades at Wheldon Road. A further £2m will come from Wakefield Council’s Rugby League Resilience Fund, with the project designed to help the Tigers meet Super League’s Grade A status, which is required to secure the club’s long-term top-flight status.
The IMG agency has introduced a new grading system to define how rugby league clubs are assessed from 2025, with the criteria covering five areas: stadiums, fandom, performance, finances and community. In October, indicative rankings were released and Castleford was the lowest-ranked Super League club.
Castleford said the plans for Wheldon Road will deliver a “much improved” matchday experience for fans, players and officials. Proposed improvements include a new all-seater main stand, refurbishment of the three existing stands, and a new banqueting suite and corporate hospitality function.
The club said the new-look stadium would also allow the Castleford Tigers Foundation to deliver additional work of social value in the community, which has been calculated as being worth the equivalent of an extra £19.6m of spending per year. Axiom will also deliver £15m of highways improvement to the Junction 32 roundabout.
Mark Grattan, managing director of Castleford, said: “Everyone knows how important the club is to the town and we take seriously our responsibility to maintain professional rugby in Castleford. However, it is no secret that the available money within the sport is diminishing.
“Without significant external funding, like that offered by the Axiom proposals, there is no realistic prospect of us raising the money required to pay for the major improvements to our stadium which are necessary over the long term.
“In turn, significantly improved banqueting and hospitality facilities will help us to substantially increase non-matchday income to the benefit of the club. We are also desperately keen to improve facilities for supporters with disabilities. The proposed stadium improvements will also deliver a new base for the Tigers Foundation which does so much important work within our community.
“It is critically important that we secure approval for both the planning application for the Wheldon Road improvements and the Axiom proposals which pay for them.”
A planning application for the project was submitted in December 2022.