Aylestone Meadows football pitch bid may face the axe
Controversial plans to build a football pitch on Aylestone Meadows may not go ahead even if they are approved by councillors on Monday.
Sir Peter Soulsby, Labour candidate to be elected mayor of Leicester, has been assured by council chief executive Sheila Lock that work will not begin at the site before the May election.
He has promised that if he is elected, he will use his powers to stop the city council's plans to build on the land.
Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Gary Hunt has also said he would stop the plans if elected, while Conservative mayoral hopeful Ross Grant has promised to review the proposals.
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Sir Peter said: "It's looking like a victory – I'm delighted.
"I can say now with absolute certainty that I promise, if I am elected, this ridiculous plan will not happen.
"I have been enormously impressed by the campaigners who have been against this all along. This land is clearly cherished by so many people.
"Even if it is given approval, whoever is elected can and will be able to make a decision after the May election."
The city council wants to build a floodlit football pitch, car park and clubhouse off Braunstone Lane East.
Sir Peter had written to Ms Lock asking her to consider withdrawing the application until after the May election.
He said he was worried about Councillor Robert Wann's comment to the Mercury that "if we get the decision at 5pm, I'll have the 'dozers on by 7pm."
She wrote back assuring him that even if the application was approved at Monday's planning committee meeting, work would not begin until after the May election.
In a letter to Mr Soulsby, she said: "While the planning committee could reach a decision to approve the proposal I hope you will be reassured the development itself cannot proceed on site until after the election, at which point the elected mayor will take lead in respect of the political process."
Work could not start until developers had drawn up a landscaping scheme, plans covering drainage, lighting and traffic and proposals for nearby sites offered up as compensation for the lost land.
Councillor Hunt said if he was elected, he would stop the plan and use the money to improve or add pitches at schools around the city.
"Because of the controversy and the total insensitivity of the development, there is no logical way the council can say yes," he said.
Councillor Grant said: "It would be pig-headed to go on with the plans as they are.
"If I was elected mayor, I do not see why we can't look at improving facilities at Aylestone Meadows, and then putting the rest of the money into pitches elsewhere."
Aylestone Meadows Appreciation Society chairwoman Anne Hayto said: "We are obviously pleased.
"The fact two of the front-runners in the election said they would stop the plan is brilliant.
"I'm happy to hear that Councillor Grant is open-minded but we would now call on him also to make an equally unequivocal statement against the plans."
Coun Wann said: "I will continue to support the application but I would like it to be noted that this is an issue I inherited.
"I can't wait for it all to be over – it has been a tough year."