NENE PARK, the former home of Rushden & Diamonds and Kettering Town, is set to be demolished under plans submitted by the stadium’s owner.
The ground in Irthlingborough was home to Irthlingborough Diamonds and then Rushden & Diamonds from 1969 to 2011 before Diamonds were dissolved.
Local rivals Kettering Town moved in for 18 months before costs became too high for the Poppies to continue playing there and the ground has been empty since November 2012.
Conalgen Enterprises SA submitted two applications for development of the Nene Park site 12 months ago. They wanted to demolish the stadium and build a new retail and leisure development including a foodstore, shops, eight-screen cinema, hotel, restaurants and a new community football facility.
AFC Rushden & Diamonds, born from the ashes of the former club, and Kettering both objected to the plans at the time.
On the news, an AFC Rushden & Diamonds club statement read: “AFC Rushden & Diamonds are extremely saddened at the recent news of the planned demolition of Nene Park.
“The stadium holds many great memories for everyone connected with the club; memories which cannot be erased by its demolition.
“However, AFC Rushden & Diamonds has proved since its formation that it is the supporters, members and volunteers who are the heart and soul of our club, not the ground in which the team plays.
“Since 2011, we have been working constantly to find a new home for AFC Rushden & Diamonds, and we will continue to do so.
“Recently, we have been in discussions with East Northamptonshire District Council and are working in conjunction with them to find a new permanent home in the Rushden, Higham and Irthlingborough area for AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
“With ENDC’s help, we hope to identify a new site upon which a new, sustainable home for the club can be built, to allow AFC Rushden & Diamonds to continue to create great football memories for years to come.”
Despite the club’s opposition, the demolition will go ahead after East Northants Council confirmed they had received the notification from Nene Park’s owners.
In a document sent to the council, it states: “The building is in a dangerous condition and is unsafe. The stadium represents a major fire risk. The site is derelict and subject to wanton damage.
“The site will be the subject of a separate planning application. A fixed hoarding will secure the site.”