A decision on the future of an £18m stadium and retail development is due “within days”, according to its millionaire supporter.
AFC Fylde chairman David Haythornthwaite told The Gazette an announcement by national planners on the Mill Farm site at Wesham is due in the next week – adding a ‘yes’ decision would be a “great Christmas present for all concerned”.
He said work on the site, which would include an Aldi supermarket, petrol station, pub and hotel, could start in February if given the go-ahead.
He added: “The national planners have 21 days to respond once they start looking at the application.
“This period runs out on Sunday, so we could have a decision today or Monday.
“It could go three ways. They may say yes, where it would go back to Fylde Council to rubber-stamp it.
“They may also say they require further information, or the one we do not want, they say they are not happy and in the worst case scenario it is delayed for up to nine months.”
Plans for the Fleetwood Road project were provisionally agreed by councillors earlier this year.
But due to the size of the project, a final ruling must be made by the Secretary of State Eric Pickles’ National Planning Unit (NPU).
The development would provide a 6,000 capacity stadium for AFC Fylde, as well as more than 200 jobs at the 32-acre site.
Mr Haythornthwaite added: “It would be a great Christmas present for all concerned.
“We’ve tried to do the right thing from day one – it has not been easy.
“I believe it is a fantastic development.”
But not everyone has been impressed with the plans, with some calling the size and scale of the scheme too much for a rural area.
A campaign group, Save Wesham and Kirkham, was set up by residents concerned with over-development in the area, but the chief executive of Mill Farm Ventures, James French, said an opinion poll earlier this year showed support for the project.
He added: “Our supporters and in fact most of the people in the local area – an independent survey in May showed 68 per cent were in favour of the development – want this development to start as soon as possible.
“Should the application get the thumbs up from the NPU then the development will start in the new year.”