Hull Fair boss ‘not losing any sleep’ over £25m sports village plans at Walton Street

Yorkshire Showmen’s Guild chairman Michael Cowie has reacted to the proposals

Hull Fair organisers say they are “not losing any sleep” over plans to create a sports village at Walton Street car park which could leave the event without a home.

Hull City has announced tentative plans for the £25m project is part of the long-term vision of owner Acun Ilicali, as he seeks to establish the Tigers as a force in the Premier League in the near future. The brand new state-of-the-art training facility would see the club’s first team and academy come under the same roof for the first time.

But such a scheme would likely mean having to find a new home for Hull Fair which has been on the current site for more than 100 years. Other sites have already been sounded out but none have so far been deemed suitable.

Chairman of the Yorkshire Showmen’s Guild Michael Cowie says Hull City Council has assured him the fair will not be impacted “for the foreseeable future” and he remains bullish.

He said: “We were made aware of the plans a couple of weeks ago when the council got in touch but we have not been involved in any discussions. But the council has assured us that Hull Fair won’t be moving anywhere in the foreseeable future.

“We will address any problems if and when they come but we are not losing any sleep over it. As far as we are concerned it is all just talk for now and it is business as usual for us.”

In terms of any other sites which Hull Fair could move to, Mr Cowie does not have any suggestion because he says he has never thought about it.

He said: “We have never considered any other site. It is not something that has been on our radar. We have no idea if any other sites would be suitable or available.

“Hull Fair has been at Walton Street for a long time. We don’t see any reason to move. This is one of the oldest charted fairs in the country and I believe many people in the city will want it to stay where it is.”

Hull City, working also under the guise as leaders of the Stadium Management Company (SMC) who operate the stadium on behalf of Hull City Council, have formed a working group to look into the scheme.

The ‘Sports Village’ as it has been dubbed among those involved in the project would take on a similar theme to the Etihad campus in Manchester, although scaled-down and will be specific to the football club and to the needs of Hull FC.

Under the plans, a host of new pitches and academy buildings would be built to accommodate Hull City’s first team and academy, which are currently operating out of Millhouse Woods in Cottingham and Bishop Burton College. There are also longer terms plans to increase the capacity as part of a wider refurbishment scheme of the 25,500-seater stadium.

But the issues around Hull Fair will have to be addressed before these grand plans can move along much further.

Hull City vice-chairman Tan Kesler said: “In the end, it comes down to Walton Street and that’s not going to change. It’s a huge piece of land being used for 15 days a year for a fair which, by the way, is amazing because I’ve been myself. It’s symbolic to many people.