PROJECT UPDATE: PNE training ground

Little happening as the great crested newt still rules the roost on land off Walker Lane
Little happening as the great crested newt still rules the roost on land off Walker Lane
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Newts in hibernation further delay PNE’s training complex.

READ MORE: ‘We now start the hard work to make plans a reality’

What is the project?

Championship club Preston North End are aiming to build a £14m state of the art training complex fit for the Premier League.

What’s happening?

Very little right now thanks to delays caused by the city council, central government and the troublesome great crested newt.

What’s the hold-up?

Initially the city’s planning committee turned down the application, causing a two-month delay before it was finally passed. The matter was then referred to the National Planning Casework Unit on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Natural England are now involved because the developers need a licence to trap colonies of newts which live on the site off Walker Lane in Fulwood. That licence has not yet come through, despite being due this week. The club is hoping it will be granted in the next week or two. Meanwhile no major groundworks can be carried out and only enabling work, like tree felling, can happen until the newts are removed.

What happens next?

Even if the licence to net the newts arrives in the next fortnight nature is set to delay the project even further. The great crested newt goes into hibernation when the night-time temperature drops below a certain level and it is now almost certain to mean the operation to capture and move them to a new home will not be able to start until next spring when the weather warms up.

When is the project expected to be completed?

PNE had wanted to have their new facility ready for the start of pre-season training next July. But with work to lay the pitches not expected to start now until May, it is unlikely to open until the end of 2018 - and possibly not even until the summer of 2019.