A popular Huddersfield five-a-side football, training and party venue is set to re-open.
The former Soccer City on the Tandem Industrial Estate at Waterloo shut down last August due to the impact of the forced Covid-19 shutdown.
Now a new operator wants to revamp the premises and relaunch the football centre. However, there’s one big snag – planning permission.
When the site owner was drawing up a new lease it was discovered that the building never had planning permission to operate as a football venue – despite being used for that purpose for at least 20 years!
Successive companies have come and gone since 1999 but none appear to have had planning permission, according to documents on the Kirklees Council website.
Diamond Business Parks Ltd has applied for a certificate of lawfulness for indoor leisure use of the large warehouse-style building.
In a letter supporting the planning application, chartered town planner David Storrie says: “The previous occupier, Soccer City, vacated the premises late last year. Since then, the site owner has been in talks with a new operator and a new lease was prepared.
“Whilst the premises have been used for indoor soccer since as far back as 1999, due diligence has identified that no planning permission was ever secured for the use. This is hard to believe given the prominent location of the premises, but it is true.
“As a consequence, the new occupier has requested the comfort of a Certificate of Lawfulness as they are looking to spend a fair deal in upgrading the premises and employing staff.”
Mr Storrie says the building was originally let to Skylark Leisure who converted it into an indoor soccer venue however “it would appear they did not apply for any change of use.”
The letter continues: “Following Skylark Leisure entering insolvency, the property was relet/taken over in July 2003 by Three Lions Leisure.
“In 2008, Michael Steel Surveyors (on behalf of administrators) were involved with the building, following which a new lease was granted to Momentum002 Ltd dated July 2010, who were the tenant until late last year, operating the site as Soccer City.
“The non-domestic rating schedules for both 2010 and 2017, both reference the building being ‘sports centre’ in accordance with the indoor soccer use. It is clear that the premises have been use for D2 indoor leisure for over 10 years. As such a Certificate of Lawfulness should be granted.
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“The new tenant is keen to get into the building as soon as possible and generate employment at the same time so prompt consideration of the application would be greatly appreciated.”
Last August Soccer City posted on their Facebook page that they had had no income for six months due to lockdown and their lease was coming to an end.
The post says: “Unfortunately, despite many rents actually going down during this crisis period, our landlord has decided that he needs a significant increase before he will grant us a new lease agreement.
“With no income for six months, a building and pitches in need of repairs and upgrade and a landlord with unrealistic demands we just cannot operate the facility as a viable concern anymore.”
The soccer venue is opposite the Total Fitness gym which announced last month it had shut down permanently, the second gym to close in that part of town in a matter of months impacting on physical and mental health and well-being.