Victory Park to net transfer to council?

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Chorley FC’s Victory Park ground is set to be ‘transferred’ to the council following a shock land swap involving multi-millionaire business tycoon Trevor Hemmings.

And if the surprise deal comes off, a major Chorley town centre site will also change hands.

Council bosses and Mr Hemmings’ Chorley-based property group Northern Trust have held talks over the plans, which the council says would allow it to press ahead with its major revamp of the town centre.

The deal would see the council ‘swapping’ a piece of land it owns on Southport Road designated for housing for the Oak House site opposite the town hall, currently owned by Northern Trust.

The aim would be to build on other town centre development proposals and create additional parking, events space and public open space as set out in the council’s Town Centre Master Plan.

The Oak House block includes the Gala Bingo site which the council already owns and leases to the company, and the closed-down Royal Oak Hotel.

The council has already turned land at the back of the site opposite the post office into a car park. The land swap would also include Victory Park - currently owned by Northern Trust – being transferred to council ownership.

Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “It is early days yet but our executive cabinet on Thursday night approved the sale of the land at Southport Road for development which would pave the way for us to realise our wider plans for the town centre.

“We have been in talks with Northern Trust and we believe this is an opportunity which we can’t afford to miss

“It may never come up again.

“If it goes ahead, it would give us the chance to look at improving the town centre as a whole rather than piecemeal.

“We would work closely with the current tenants in the building to secure their future business within Chorley borough, and we would also be receiving income from the land we’d acquire.”

The council-owned land on Southport Road is between Parklands High School playing fields and the entrance to Astley Park at Ackhurst Lodge.

It is already allocated for housing and as part of the sale conditions, the developer would also have to create a 100-space car park to provide vital event parking for Astley Park.

A spokesman for Northern Trust said: “We have been working closely with Chorley Council on its regeneration plans for the town centre and particularly the site at Oak House.

“The plans are exciting and will undoubtedly improve the facilities of the surrounding area and bring further investment streams into the borough.

“The land swap is ideally suited to our core portfolio strategy and we are looking forward to bring forward plans for the site on Southport Road.”

Speaking about the proposed plans for the Chorley FC, chairman Ken Wright said: “Obviously discussions are at a very early stage with a lot still to be decided, but in principal this move represents a significant and positive way forwards for Chorley Football Club both on and off the field.”