Design & Development

Talks set over site proposal for Forest stadium

The City Ground in Nottingham, England

Featured image credit: John Sutton/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Nottinghamshire County Council is set to discuss a potential alternative site for a stadium for Nottingham Forest amid a dispute between the Premier League football club and Nottingham City Council over its future at the historic City Ground.

Forest last month warned that it could look to relocate from the City Ground amid the dispute which concerns the lease deal for the stadium. Forest has long-held plans to redevelop what has been its home since 1898, but has been frustrated in recent years by bureaucratic red tape. The club is currently operating under a 50-year contract struck in 2011 for the prime real estate on the banks of the River Trent.

Talks over an extension to the lease deal are said to have stalled over the City Council’s demands the current £250,000 (€293,000/$319,000) rent is increased to around £1m per year. This comes with the government having last month appointed commissioners to help run the City Council after the authority declared itself effectively bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Forest has stressed that it needs to secure an extension to the lease, or potentially buy the freehold to the land, to commit to investment in redeveloping the City Ground. The County Council has now offered to explore other options with Forest should it decide to pursue a move.

The Independent Alliance opposition group has suggested land near Toton as an alternative site, with a motion on the subject due to be discussed at a County Council meeting next week. The site had been due to host a rail hub serving the HS2 high-speed railway project, the Nottinghamshire part of which has been axed.

Ashfield Independent councillor David Martin, who proposed the motion, told the BBC: “It’s clear that as a county council we need to reach out to the club who are an economic powerhouse for our county.

“Toton already has the infrastructure including a tram stop and railway station. Any new stadium at Toton will far surpass the current capacity of the City Ground. If Nottinghamshire County Council were serious about helping the club expand – then exploring options at this stage is eminently sensible and would only be a last resort.”

Keith Girling, the County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said the authority has been in talks with Forest for some time. He added: “We’d be more than happy to explore options with Forest, as with any business or developer.

“We recognise the value of them to the local economy. Hypothetically, if that land at Toton is suitable, of course we’d be interested.”

The dispute surrounding the City Ground comes after it was reported last month that Forest is working on plans to expand the City Ground’s capacity to 40,000, from its current level of 29,550.

In June 2019, it was announced that Forest would be able to press ahead with redevelopment work at the City Ground after securing a new 250-year lease at the stadium. The City Council agreed to grant the club the lease following “extensive negotiations” over a planned expansion to 38,000 seats.

The current 50-year agreement was due to be superseded by the 250-year extension, however the deal was never completed, with Forest instead continuing to operate under the 50-year contract struck in 2011.