Falmer Stadium
Falmer Stadium, known for sponsorship purposes as the American Express Community Stadium, though also often referred to as simply Falmer, or The Amex, is a new football stadium under construction near the village of Falmer on the outskirts of Brighton and Hove. When completed it will be the home ground for Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22,500 all-seater stadium's construction is due to be completed in May 2011 in time for the 2011”“12 football season.

History

Plans
The plans were initiated by Brighton and Hove Albion after the club's previous home, the Goldstone Ground, was sold by the club's former board (consisting of Greg Stanley, Bill Archer and David Bellotti) to developers in 1995 with no new home arranged. When the club was evicted at the end of the 1996-1997 season, it ground-shared for two seasons at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium, 50 miles away in Kent. Two years later, the club returned to Brighton as tenants of Withdean Stadium, which was upgraded to Football League capacity requirements and later expanded when Brighton reached Division One (now the Football League Championship) in 2002 following two successive promotions. The site at Falmer was identified during the 1998-99 season and it was hoped that the stadium would be ready in the early to mid-2000s. However, subsequent delays in gaining planning permission meant that the club would have to wait until 2011 before being able to play their home games there.

Planning permission
Planning permission was given by the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in June 2002, with the intention of the stadium being ready for the 2005-06 season. The plans for the stadium were fought by neighbouring Lewes District Council and local residents. The stadium will lie completely within Brighton and Hove; the vacant field to the north-east of the site straddling the boundary with Lewes. Further complications were due to both vacant fields, and the campus of the adjacent University of Sussex, being included in the South Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, although outside the National Park. This led to the designation of the stadium plans being the subject of a separate planning inquiry by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. John Prescott (then Deputy Prime Minister) approved the plans on 28 October 2005. However, Lewes District Council immediately mounted a new legal challenge to the stadium plan. In April 2006, Prescott admitted that he had given his approval based on the misconception that only a small part of the stadium site lay on the Lewes side, and withdrew it. Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State responsible for planning, re-affirmed the approval on 25 July 2007. Her decision went against the advice of planning inspectors. Lewes district council, Falmer Parish council and the South Downs Joint Committee (the three main opponents) announced shortly afterwards that they would not mount a high court challenge. On 4 September 2007, the deadline for appealing the new grant of permission expired and the club received full permission to proceed.

The stadium
On 27 November 2008 the Buckingham Group signed the construction contract for the new stadium and began preparation work on the site on 17 December. The stadium is set three storeys down into the ground. 138,000 cubic metres of chalk was excavated for its construction, which was put on the field on the south side of Village Way. This has been estimated to prevent 20,000 lorry trips taking the chalk to landfill. Construction at the site officially started on 17 December 2008 and will finish in May 2011. The stadium has the infrastructure to be expanded if necessary: however, any such developments would need further planning permission. This expansion would take place within the current structure. The largest is the three-tiered West Stand, which will hold 11,833 spectators. The East Stand (the Family stand) will hold 5,404, the North Stand 2,688, and the South Stand, which will contain away supporters, 2,575. The stadium has been designed by London-based Architects, KSS, who also designed the Emirates Stadium. It is worth noting that the stadium attendance has the capacity to be increased at a later date, with room for a further tier being installed above the East Stand (Family stand), which will increase the stadium attendance to a possible 30,000 seats. This building work would require no changes to the stadium frame and layout, as the space where the tier would be added will be free above the East Stand. The deal confirming the naming of the stadium was announced on 22 June 2010. The stadium will incorporate: a banqueting and conference facility; a nursery school/crèche; 720 square metres of teaching space for the University of Brighton; 1,200 square metres of office space. As well as football matches, the stadium is also designed for other sports such as rugby and hockey, and music concerts, conferences and exhibitions. The stadium's drinking outlets will offer real ales from two local breweries, Harveys and Dark Star, both organisations having supported the club's appeal for a new stadium at Falmer, along with special guest beers from breweries local to the away teams.

Transport
The stadium will be close to the A27 Brighton by-pass, linking it northbound to the A23 and M23 motorway towards London and southbound to the A270 and the city centre. There will be pre-paid parking available for 2000 cars on Sussex University and the Falmer Academy areas. The club will run numerous park and ride services to the stadium. One of these will be on Mill Road off the A23/A27 junction and hold 500 cars. Another will be at Brighton Racecourse. Match tickets will come with travel vouchers valid for train, bus and park and ride. The stadium will be served by Falmer railway station which is a nine-minute journey from Brighton railway station. The site will also include: a new link road through the southern edge of Stanmer Park to the Sussex campus; a new footbridge over the railway at Falmer station; a transport interchange/coach park to the south of the stadium across Village Way; a 1,000-space car park at Falmer High School; alterations to the A27/A270 road junction, including a new flyover; a combined footpath/cycleway; a 150-space car park for club officials, players and disabled drivers; 220 cycle spaces.

Building Activity

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