A former gasworks site will prove key to resolving the future of the John Smith’s Stadium.

The derelict plot of land in Gasworks Street was purchased by the company that runs the stadium, Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd (KSDL), for car parking for the proposed £100 million HD One leisure complex.

HD One was to have seen a ski slope, a tenpin bowling centre, big-name restaurants and a hotel built around the stadium.

KSDL went into partnership with a developer and set up a new company The HD One Kirklees Ltd to deliver the project.

The scheme was close to being started in 2017 but uncertainties around Brexit followed by the Covid-19 pandemic put plans on hold.

While the plans appear to be mothballed – and unlikely to be restarted in the current economic climate – it is understood the developer hasn’t given up on it.

Kirklees Council is currently looking at a new management structure for the John Smith’s Stadium which could mean Huddersfield Town taking “full operational control” on a long-term lease.

The gasworks site can be seen in the top left hand corner, to the left of the gasholder

A report to the council’s Cabinet says: “KSDL entered into a commercial agreement with a partner to develop a part of the site. A viable potential scheme has never been achieved.

“This partner organisation does not accept that the arrangement is unachievable. This agreement may limit the flexibility to reorganise or restructure or result in litigation.”

Huddersfield Hub understands this refers to HD One and links closely to the gasworks site, which has been used as overflow car parking for the stadium in recent years.

The Cabinet report says “KSDL has not been viable for some time” and has received various loans from the council, the latest – and largest – in 2021 being replacement borrowing for Kirklees Stadium Development Land Ltd’s purchase of the Gasworks Street site.

READ MORE: A strong word of warning from one of the founders of the John Smith’s Stadium

Kirklees Council sees the gasworks site as a key part of its masterplan for the Station to Stadium Enterprise Corridor, which would open up land for economic development alongside the new £250 million National Health Innovation Campus.

The council had previously offered to buy the land as part of a deal to create a Community Trust to run the stadium. The latest loan was linked to that deal.

Agreement had been reached with the shareholders in KDSL (Kirklees Council 40%, Huddersfield Town 40% and Huddersfield Giants 20%) but the deal fell through when Dean Hoyle replaced Phil Hodgkinson as Town owner late last year.

At a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday December 21, the council will launch its Station to Stadium masterplan and describes the scheme as “one of the most exciting economic development opportunities in the Yorkshire region and beyond.”

However, it seems the gasworks site is also crucial to the future viability of the HD One scheme and the council report warns of the potential for “litigation” or legal action.

It’s clear the council is favouring economic development, growth and jobs over a leisure attraction so the future of the gasworks site adds a new level of difficulty to resolving the stadium ownership question.

The council warned as long ago as March 2021 that KSDL was in danger of going into administration and the company’s financial position has worsened due to spiralling energy costs and inflationary pressures.

But it is understood the football club and rugby league club are continuing to ensure that costs are being met and as long as the shareholders continue to meet any shortfall there is no imminent threat of administration.

Clr Graham Turner, Kirklees Council’s Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “The Station to Stadium corridor has huge economic potential. The masterplan gives shape to our ambition and sets out how we can bring high quality jobs and economic opportunities to the town.

“At the heart of those plans is the stadium. A new ownership model could secure its future as well as going a long way to unlocking the wider economic potential of the surrounding area.”

In a joint statement on the future of stadium, the council, Town and the Giants said: “The stadium is at the heart of our community.

“Our clubs mean so much to people across Huddersfield and well beyond. But if the stadium is going to serve the community for the future, it needs investment and a financial platform that’s sustainable in the long term.

“All partners are working closely together to find a way forward that suits everyone, especially supporters and future generations of fans.

“There’s a lot of detailed and complex issues to consider and a range of options open to us. But all partners are committed to maintaining the stadium as the heart and soul of Huddersfield’s sporting heritage.”

The HD One Kirklees Ltd did not respond to requests for comment.

Huddersfield Town is currently up for sale with the club seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship.

Town fans are increasingly concerned over the future of the club both on and off the field and Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association issued a plea for all parties to put their differences aside and act in the best interests of the football club.

In a statement HTSA said: “In the next few months a small number of people will decide the long-term future of Huddersfield Town.

“First, the stadium shareholders will vote on changes to the site’s ownership and management structure. Second, the current club custodian/s will likely sell it to new investors.

“In view of this, we urge all parties to set aside their differences and act in the best interests of the football club.

“More immediately, we call on the Board to do everything in their power and resources to avoid relegation, which would be nothing short of a catastrophe.

“Huddersfield Town is a well-supported club with a proud history and great potential. It deserves leaders who are determined to build on past achievements and set the highest standards for the future.”