Fury over Tranmere Rovers 'blood money' plans to build homes on Wilfred Owen memorial
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Development, Local Government
The site belongs to the football club who have been using it as a training pitch.
Tranmere Rovers have been described as seeking "blood money" from a proposed housing development on land set aside as a memorial to Wilfred Owen and his 87 fellow pupils from the Birkenhead Institute who were killed during World War I.
The football club were yesterday granted planning permission by Wirral Council to develop up to 90 homes on the Ingleborough Road memorial field - a site owned by the club and used as a training pitch.
The proposals have outraged the Wilfred Owen Story, an organisation that aims to commemorate the memory of the poet. The group's Dean Johnson said: "Rovers' plans represent the vile vandalism of a memorial for blood money. They have sold the souls of Wilfred Owen and his fellow WW1 soldiers for nickels and dimes. For the cost of the sacrifice they made we got a beautiful open space. And now it has to be destroyed just to save this ailing, wretched and obscure football club."
It is understood that the club are looking to sell the land to clear their debts.
Wirral Council, who have been Tranmere Rovers' shirt sponsors since the early '80s, have granted outline permission for a development at the site. It is understood that planning permission was first applied for seven years ago with a stipulation to provide 30% social housing in any development. That stipulation has since been removed, and the council have confirmed that all the homes will be for private sale.
The council told 24dash that planning officers sent deputies in their place when the approval was granted to avoid any conflict of interest. They also sought legal advice. The council's sponsorship is worth £125,000 a year.
In April The Telegraph reported that the council had gone ahead with a renewal of the sponsorship deal despite having to close five care homes and cut 1,100 jobs in 2011. It also reported that senior council staff were being allocated seven tickets per game to watch from the director's box and hospitality suite.
Responding at the time, the council said that the deal “enhances the corporate identity of the authority” and promotes the council “locally in a positive way”.
Chair of Wirral Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Bernie Mooney said: "At its meeting on 25 October, the Planning Committee listened carefully to the representations from the objectors, agents for the applicant and local Councillors.
“Having considered this information and the details of the report, they determined, by a majority vote, to agree with the recommendations of the Planning Officers and to approve the applications for development at Ingleborough Road and Woodchurch Leisure Centre, Carrbridge Road.
“Both approvals were made subject to a Section 106 agreement and conditions."