Chairman outlines ambitions as Ilkeston Town plan next stage of New Manor Ground development
Chairman and owner David Hilton, who has already invested in and overseen several changes to the NMG including a new 4G pitch and substantial improvements to the technical area and changing rooms, has now released plans to develop the current ‘car park end’ of the ground, as well as the car park itself.
The new plans for that particular part of the NMG alter from those originally laid out three years ago when Hilton and business partner Andrew Nally began investing in the club, with the area set to be redeveloped to now include two new buildings – one of them being four storeys high – which between them will house serviced offices, boardroom facilities, a main reception, a gymnasium and fitness suite, a new bar, club shop and a cafeteria.
A new larger car park will be situated at the rear of the stadium, while the rear of the new building which will back onto the pitch will have attached to it either seating or terracing, or possibly both, the issue likely to be discussed with fans prior to development.
And Hilton says that all being well with regard to planning permission, he’d expect work to commence on the buildings in the spring of 2023.
He said: “We released plans of how we’d like to develop the New Manor Ground a couple of years ago, the first two phases of that being the installation of the 4G pitch and then to fully refurbish several parts of the ground that were old and tired and needing modernisation. Those phases are complete.
"The next phase was then to develop the car park end of the ground. Initially we’d planned commercial units to be part of the development but due to issues raised in the pre-application stage we’ve reassessed things and gone with the option of the two buildings that will solely serve the football club instead.
"Whilst these buildings will cost more to build initially, we anticipate they’d pay for themselves within three to four years, such is our desire to do everything we do on a sustainable level.
"It will be eye-catching from a cosmetic point of view but also help to continue bringing good revenue into the club for years to come.
"Also, given we won’t be looking at redeveloping the current clubhouse until a bit further down the line, it’ll mean we have two bars and function areas operating simultaneously and when that work does eventually go ahead, we’ll still have the one in the new building rather than no bar at all.”
Hilton said that the current plans are in the pre-application stage at the moment, but he is confident any issues can be ironed out to allow the work to go ahead.
He said: “There were some concerns from the council about putting a new car park on green belt land, where the current training pitch is, as guidelines state it would have to be in the interests of sport and recreation, which we believe it will be given it’ll service the football club.
"We’re also not concerned by it being a flood zone as often the floodwater diverts to the other side, and in any case it’ll be a car park and if it’s flooded, we just wouldn’t use it.
"So we’re aiming to get a few of these issues ironed out before going to the big expense of the formal application, which I’m then confident will be approved and we can start work – hopefully around March next year when the weather begins to improve.
"It will obviously go to committee stage but I believe we’d have the support of the committee and the council in what we’re doing.”
On a more general level, Hilton says he’s been delighted with the progress the club is making both on and off the pitch since he took over, and maintains he has strong ambitions as to where he wants the Robins to be in the future.
He said: “We’ve made no secret of the fact we want to eventually become full-time, and I strongly believe that we can operate on a sustainable enough level to allow us to progress certainly to National League level and maybe beyond.
"When we came into the club we identified immediately that we needed to bring it up to date and to be attracting a lot more younger fans to the games, to supplement the great support already here.
"We’re achieving that, with the numbers of youngsters at games having grown massively in line with average crowds generally, and we have also fulfilled our desire to bring the ground more up-to-date given how tired it was looking beforehand.
"We have a great squad and there is a great feel to the club at the moment, which is clearly helped by the fact the team is doing so well.
"Players want to come here and be part of it, as emphasised by the pedigree of some of the players in the current squad.
“Obviously we hope to get promoted this year and we can then continue to build and hopefully maintain competitive squads at the level above and beyond.”
Ilkeston are next in action on Saturday when they host Carlton Town at the New Manor Ground, kick-off 3pm.