The Pompey fans hoping to assist in Fratton Park’s destiny

Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett defends Pompey recruitment

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A fresh perspective is currently being shone on an issue lingering for half a century.

Fratton Park and its relevance to Pompey’s future has once more come under the scrutiny of its owners.

Yet it is hoped lessons from the past can assist with the moulding of the club’s destiny.

Fresh stadium research collated by 14 Blues followers has recently been delivered to Tornante’s David Fields, the man supervising the drawing up of a Fratton blueprint.

The two-part dossier commissioned by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust in March 2015 potentially represents a headstart in the pursuit of a long-standing ambition.

Those involved in the Long Term Strategy Group include Barry Harmer and Mike Allgrove, town planners who between them served Portsmouth City Council from 1979 until 2013.

Registered architect Mike Saunders was also highly influential, while Andrew Smith, a former leader of Chichester District Council and chairman of its planning committee, offered another expert voice.

Completed in March 2017, their findings state Pompey must remain at Fratton Park – and it is hoped Fields will listen.

Smith, a North Stand Lower season-ticker holder, said: ‘Quite often people say “Fratton Park is difficult to get to, we need an out-of-town place” but they are very reluctant to identify where this place would be.

‘I actually think Fratton is a very good location – just 10 minutes’ walk from a mainline railway station with incredible connections, it’s an ideal location and lots also walk there.

‘Those on the group didn’t have a vote at the start but not everyone was necessarily convinced we should stay at Fratton Park. By the end it was a unanimous judgement.

‘You look at a major clubs like Everton and the trouble they’ve had over the years trying to find somewhere.

‘However, I don’t know how many other local authorities have a local plan like Pompey where it actually earmarks a large area of land which is suitable for a football stadium.

‘That is a godsend for the club, a presumption in favour of a 35,000 all-seater stadium.

‘People in Tornante have these reports, what use they will make of them, who knows?

‘They will do their own research but they will find the same thing.

‘It sort of gives a comfort if two people have the same findings.

‘The first report is principally the handiwork of two former planners, so Tornante are not going to get better insight than they can offer.

‘Nothing has changed, the local plan is still the same, land availability is still the same, the only thing that has changed is the financial resources of the club.

‘And all the feedback we’ve had from everybody at the club that has seen the report has been positive.’

Released for public consumption earlier this month, part one of the report reflects on 12 sites previously examined by Blues owners from 1969 to 2007.

These include initial consideration between 1969-77 of the site of Portsmouth airport, instead transformed into Anchorage Park.

Other deliberations consist of King George V Playing Fields, part of Portsmouth golf course, Hilsea Gasworks, Farlington Playing Fields, IBM and The Hard.

In the present, the Trust have examined alternative sites on Ministry of Defence land at the United Services Ground in Burnaby Road and HMS Temeraire in nearby Park Road.

However, the report states ‘The Ministry of Defence is unwilling to release these sites, which are well used and protected open space (though not public).

‘They would need to be combined to form a large enough site and would raise traffic capacity problems.’

Another consideration was the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus at Furze Lane – ‘...but this is again protected open space, with a particular natural conservational issue and is not well located in access terms.’.

Meanwhile, the council’s Portsmouth Plan, adopted in January 2012, carries a specific policy (PCS7) which safeguards Fratton Park for use as a football stadium.

Crucially, in terms of obtaining planning permission, it allocates surrounding land, including the south side of Rodney Road, for a new or improved football stadium.

Part two of the Trust’s report investigates opportunities for development on the existing Fratton Park site. Although it stopped short of a conclusion.

Smith added: ‘That report gives examples of what you could do but deliberately we didn’t choose between keeping the pitch on the current orientation or turning it 90 degrees.

‘Not that we couldn’t agree – we wanted it to stimulate debate.

‘Personally, I favour turning the ground 90 degrees simply because Tornante are talking about really long-term – and I think that is the best option.

‘The problem is, in terms of the phasing, it probably needs expanding the Fratton End before the big ticket item of the North Stand.

‘With the Milton End, you could only do something similar to what is already there, you cannot go up very much.

‘Even if you utilise the moat, which has never served any useful purpose, bearing in mind you have to build a new stand and give everyone a bit more movement, you wouldn’t actually get many more rows at all.

‘It would improve facilities but not capacity – an expensive outlay for not very much gain really.

‘Although these are feasible options, we obviously were never going to be the ones who drew up the plans.

‘The club were always going to appoint a firm of architects – but I think there is a lot of meat there.’

To view the complete reports visit pompeytrust.com/news

Click here to watch our video charting Pompey’s new ground plans from down the years.