Non-executive director Bob Pritchard says that the signing of new leases provides an excellent opportunity for Hereford United

First published in Sport

AFTER 12 months of negotiations, we have completed the leases for the security of Hereford United for the next 30 years.

I got involved with this project in early January 2013 following an invite from the board, as it would seem that the objectives and strategy set by the club were not progressing as quickly as desired.

I combined this new responsibility alongside the project for the development of Aylestone Park on behalf of the Community Trust, and here we are today hopefully in a good and secure place with regard to the ground leases.

As a non-executive director appointed at the beginning of the year, I have given all of my time free of charge to Hereford United FC, that's the board, the staff, the shareholders and the supporters, to achieve this result and am pleased that we have at last reached our goal.

Here are some key points:

Provides the Football Club with security for the next 30 years ensuring that the club can gain re-entry to the Football League in the future which requires a 25-year secured tenancy.

Provides the opportunity to obtain grant funding for any future development, £400,000 in the Conference and £750,000 in the Football League.

The council will allow an extension to the new Stadium lease of 250 years if we commence any of the development at either end giving added security to our home at Edger Street.

The council will fund the development roads to service our land free of costs to the football club.

The council have exchanged land at the back of the Meadow End and have entered into a tenancy of will for both parties to continue to use this land for a 12 month period, and then fenced off on vacant possession.

The council have transferred to the football club the public toilet area and the club will seek to use this facility in a temporary form while development negotiations are being concluded.

All income received from the sale of these development areas is to be held in a joint escrow account with Herefordshire Council, for allocation towards the construction of two new stands, one at each end of the ground, and constructed closer to the pitch touchline as previously outlined, together with costs for modernisation of the existing stadium, which is in constant need of repair

The Meadow End development can be used for a Hotel, Residential, Class B1 [a] and A3 Commercial Development and General Leisure uses but not to include any retail development or uses within class A4,A5, B1[c], B2 and B8

The Blackfriars End development can be used for Class A1 Development to include a food store of no more than 5000 sq ft and premises designed for use within Class A3 and or B1, Offices, Hotel, and Residential purposes.

The leases allow for the stadium to be used "as set out in the existing lease" for an athletic sports and/or football stadium with ancillary facilities consistent at times to a modern sports stadium but with such ancillary facilities, to be linked directly to the use of the pitch and stadium as an athletic, football or other sports stadium and deliver public and community and education activities at the premises.

The East Stand to be used as a social or restaurant or licensed sports facilities together with a shop and offices that are associated with the sporting facilities and finally the whole facilities can facilitate a reasonable number of concerts per year.

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WHAT IS THE COST OF THE STADIUM DEVLOPMENT

From quotes for a 1,200-seater covered stand on the Blackfriars End circa £700K, however there are other costs to consider such as demolition, new floodlights and under-stand costs for toilets, refreshment areas and bar facilities including fit-out, and services, which could raise the total costs to nearer £1m without further modification to size and capacity.

From quotes for a 2,000 terrace covered stand on the Meadow End circa £600K, however there are other costs to consider such as demolition, new floodlights, and under-stand costs for toilets, refreshment areas, bar facilities including fit out, and services, which could raise the total costs to nearer £900K without further modification to size and capacity

We will of course seek, while negotiating with developers any overlap cost savings that can be offset against these development costs.

Land valuations as estimated by our agent Savills International are confidential but we expect to also need grant application funds to complete the projects, however best value negotiation is expected

Any one thinking the directors will get their loans paid back from this development opportunity is well off the mark.

WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF THE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENTS

One way for the club to be involved in the developments, to maintain a future revenue stream is through a Joint Venture partnership [ JV ] as I have stated previously.

This is a consideration to be investigated however the current details of the two preferred schemes are: Blackfriars End, - five-storey commercial structure with 60,000 sq ft of accommodation [12,000 sq ft per floor] ; Meadow End, - four-storey two-bedroom city-centre apartment scheme with 23,000 total sq ft of accommodation.

These are the main details to hand at this time, however none of this opportunity would have been available had the leases still been owned by Richardson Capital and, in my opinion, the local council could not have been as creative with the new leases as now, and present an opportunity that can ensure the football club is a long-term asset to the community of Hereford.

We are grateful to the council staff for their assistance along the way .

I hope this answers a number of points but any further queries should be emailed to club@herefordunited.co.uk and I will do my best to answer them.

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