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Club News

PERRY ON TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY

27 July 2017

Paul Hazlewood
Martin Perry - Albion's executive director.

In the latest in a series of pieces to celebrate his 20th year with the club, Brighton & Hove Albion executive director Martin Perry reflected on another special landmark day: the ten-year anniversary of the day the club received planning permission for the American Express Community Stadium.
 
It was the day that Albion would finally learn they had been granted permission to build a permanent home at Falmer, but finding out the verdict was anything but straightforward, as Perry explains.
 
He said, "It was probably and certainly in terms of the stadium, the most significant date from the last 20 years. It was the date that the planning permission finally came through and that was after all the public inquiries and the legal challenges.
 
"We thought we had been granted permission in 2005 but the letter from John Prescott was found to be flawed, it was challenged in the High Court by Lewes District Council and subsequently quashed.
 
"We had to go through the process again and by the time we permission was finally granted we'd also had to deal with three Secretaries of State, because the responsibility for planning decisions was transferred from John Prescott to a new department run by Ruth Kelly who was the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.”

"She then stood down and was replaced by Hazel Blears who finally gave the decision.”

“ We had been told to expect the decision on the 24th July by letter and so we arrived in our offices in North Road at around 6.30 in the morning early to await arrival of the post.”
 
"All correspondence was channelled through our planning consultants based round the corner in Queens Road and the decision was due to go to their office. At the same time we knew it was being sent to Brighton & Hove City Council, Lewes District Council and the University of Brighton. The post normally arrived at the offices of our planning consultants at around 7.00 am, they checked but the Decision letter wasn't there.”

In the end it wasn't by post, but by phone call that Albion’s long-serving director and his colleagues learned the news, which circulated elsewhere before the verdict was finally received in hard copy on the club's fax machine.

"We had an agonising wait until 9.00 am, when we had a phone call from Brighton Council saying, 'Well done! You’ve got it'.  We told them we hadn’t got it and they said they would send it to us by fax!”

"It was a 70-odd page letter and they started faxing it from page one, the decision was on the final page. We were literally standing by the fax machine watching it churn out page after page, waiting agonisingly to see the final decision!"
 
"Somehow, as the main applicant, we had not received the letter by post, but it had gone to everyone else. I don't think we ever did get the letter!

"Of course, we wouldn't fully believe it until we saw it, but as we read it, we knew, finally, that it was true and that we had won the battle for planning permission. Members of the Falmer for All team were with us and we joined together to have a glass of champagne and there was a little celebration!
 
"We checked it, and spoke with Brighton Council, who told us, 'It's okay this time, it'll stick.' Shortly after we heard that Lewes were not going to challenge the decision again. Finally, the battle was over and we could begin work on how we were going to build the stadium."


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