Political turmoil has been blamed for delays in building a new stadium for Castleford Tigers.
The Super League club is set to move to a new site next to Junction 32 of the M62, alongside a huge retail and leisure development and country park, which was given planning permission in 2015.
The people behind the ambitious project, which will be known as the Axiom development, have insisted that it is going ahead as expected, and say they hope to be laying the first bricks and mortar on the site later this year.
Representing the developers, Phillip Lunn told Wakefield Council’s planning committee on Thursday said that despite setbacks, “significant progress” had been made.
Marks and Spencer, Next, Boots and Primark are among retailers who are on board with the scheme, and Mr Lunn said talks were at advanced stages with other shops. He said: “Over the last two years, the political turmoil has caused problems. In any other climate, we’d have been on the site 12 – 15 months ago, based on the previous schemes we’ve delivered.
“We’ve just kept our heads down, we’ve kept on signing big retail brands. We are completely committed to Axiom. We will deliver it. It is a challenging time for retailers, but we have a site that is very attractive.”
Mr Lunn also claimed that the whole development will create 3,000 jobs, 1,000 more than previously reported.
Councillors raised concerns about the impact on traffic on the M62 on matchdays, given current levels congestion on the motorway at the moment.
They were told that developers were giving up land to help expand Junction 32 to ease traffic flow. Final planning permission for the design and infrastructure around the development was approved, with 14 of the committee’s 16 councillors voting in favour.
Coun Glenn Burton said he wanted to see Tigers leave their current home as soon as possible. He said: “Most visiting supporters travelling to Castleford will use the M62, whether they’re at the Wheldon Road stadium or not, if I can call it a stadium. “It must be the only iron clad stadium belonging to any sport left in the country. If there’s another one I’d like to know about it. “ven amateur football clubs have had to up their game. The sooner the club moves from there the better.”