Council funding deal ensures Headingley development goes ahead

Council funding deal ensures Headingley development goes ahead

Leeds City Council has backed an emergency funding deal to guarantee that work can start this summer on the redevelopment of Headingley cricket and rugby stadium.

The plan focuses on the Football Stand, a double-sided stand that faces the cricket field on one side and the rugby pitch on the other. It is to be demolished and rebuilt, providing more seats for cricket fans and ensuring rugby league team Leeds Rhinos and union side Leeds Carnegie can offer better facilities for fans, including more executive provision.

Leeds council pushed through the £35 million deal with a third-party investor to ensure work can begin in June, with this ensuring that the project will be finished in time for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, when some of the matches are due to be staged at the venue.

The deal has been completed after previous plans to pay for the new stand - which involved Leeds Rhinos selling off land owned elsewhere in the city for housing development - fell through.

Council leader Judith Blake said: "I am pleased that executive board has backed the deal which we have arranged with a private third-party investor to fund the redevelopment of Headingley Carnegie Stadium.

"With the tight timescales which are involved for this work to begin, this route offers the best and most viable option moving forward. As part of this agreement, the cost of financing the development will be met by both the rugby and cricket clubs at no cost to the tax-payer."

The development, which will cost £40 million in total, will be the latest in a number of construction projects at Headingley in recent years.

Most of these have seen the cricketing arena being transformed, with a new West Stand to replace the old West terrace, a large East Stand where once were low-lying stands and a groundsman's hut, double-decker stands at the Kirkstall Lane End and a new pavilion and press room complex, which also includes facilities used by Leeds Beckett University.

The work may mean some disruption for fans attending this year's Test match between England and the West Indies in August, with the rugby-facing side of the stand providing access around the cricket ground in the past.