With Cornwall For Cornwall

Gans Kernow Rag Kernow

Westholme, Alexandra Road,

Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY

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Posted: August 10, 2020
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I am pleased to report that following our recent application to LEP for “shovel ready” funds for the project that we are now in a position to finalise one key outstanding issue on the funding for the stadium and the land ownership.

It’s probably best I enumerate the recent events in the order that they occurred so everyone can judge for themselves whether we are doing the right thing by taking the course of action we have chosen.

The project cost for phase 1, a 6,000 spectator capacity (4,200 covered) of the 10,000 capacity stadium is now £22 million. This includes repositioning to remove a couple of tight spots that would have restricted movement around the stadium.

Furthermore, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic we had been considering adding a fourth floor of offices to the west stand to make the stadium business plan even stronger, add another element of vitality to the weekday feel of the stadium and improve confidence in the operating viability for funders. Whilst employers are now reviewing their need for offices there is also a reality that many people are now working from home and are likely to continue to do so. Some are not able to work at home comfortably and some prefer to work in different spaces. The upshot is that we are still investigating an additional floor but its use will be more flexible to cater for different scenarios.

The addition of the fourth floor and contingency raises the total estimate to £26m.

The total finance available in total is £12 million, this being £3 million from Cornwall Council plus £9 million from the stadium partners. We have already expended almost £2 million on the design so far.

In July the Government invited bids via the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (CIoS LEP) for ‘shovel ready‘ schemes. We sought to use the opportunity to request the balance of £14 million reflecting the difficulty of securing private finance during the pandemic. I have to admit (living and working in Kenya) I knew nothing about the LEP but they were very accommodating and especially their Chairman, Mark Duddridge, who kept us fully informed on progress of the application.

Elsewhere in the press you will no doubt have seen the government have allocated c. £14 million for Cornwall and Scilly against a much bigger wish list so the CIoS LEP quite rightly decided that the funds should be spread more widely amongst other deserving projects.

Nevertheless, what did come to the forefront in this process was the ‘elephant in the room’ that the Government would not provide ANY funding to a project basically owned by a private organisation such as the Cornish Pirates.

To cut a long story short we have now agreed with the Council that ownership of the land and the stadium will move to a Community Interest Company (CIC). It has been agreed with Cornwall Council the CIC will hold the land and the funding. The board of this company will have public and private sector representation including the Sport Cornwall Foundation (A charity set up to promote sport outreach to the community), Truro & Penwith College and Truro City FC.

The stadium will still be run and managed by STADOP, which will still be owned and operated by the Pirates, hence the private sector will carry the operating risk. The only downside is the fact that Cornish Pirates won’t own the land. A major upside is that, in return for the stadium partners’ £9 million capital investment, Pirates, Truro City FC and Truro & Penwith College will all enter into long-term leases at a peppercorn rent payable to the CIC.

The next move now is for the partners and the Council to work with the LEP on the preparation of a formal application to the Government for a £14 million grant to the CIC – the model preferred by Government.

We have decided on this course of action due to the current state of play with respect to Government affinity for large projects that will stimulate the local economy and benefit the health of the community.

In the meantime, we will be launching our Crowdfunding initiative in the very near future. The business case for the stadium will form the background of this Crowdfunding offer/ presentation, basically from the successful operation of STADOP. The funds are to be allocated towards building the squad and our target is £2.5 million so watch this space.

It’s onwards and upwards as far as I’m concerned and I believe we have made the right choices with respect to the decision on giving up the title to the land – after all it’s a Stadium for Cornwall and the community should take preference as they will be the major users having 180 days of pitch usage compared with c.45 days for the Pirates and Truro City FC.


8 August 2020

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