A DECISION on controversial plans to transform Tranmere Rovers' former training ground into a housing estate has been deferred until a site visit has taken place.
Councillors on Wirral's planning committee were expected to approve the plans when they met on Wednesday night.
The club has asked for permission to sell its Ingleborough Road site in Birkenhead, to make way for development of 90 houses.
The scheme goes hand-in-hand with a parallel application to create four full-sized football pitches plus one junior academy pitch and one training area on land near the Solar Campus in Leasowe Road, Leasowe. This has also been deferred until a site visit has taken place.
The schemes have the support of the club's supporters' trust, who recently said development would be in the interests of the community, the club and supporters.
But campaigners say the proposals are 'disrespectful' to the memories of Wirral soldiers killed in the First World War, who have been honoured with a plaque. They have campaigned for the last four years against the plan.
Ingleborough field is a dedicated memorial to 88 former students of Birkenhead Institute who lost their lives in the First World War, among them the renowned war poet Wilfred Owen, who was educated at the school.
Eighty-eight trees representing the fallen soldiers were planted around the field as a "living memorial" to them in the 1920s. The development proposals include a memorial plaque to the 88 men.
A decision over the scheme has been delayed three times in the last two years, Rovers' also withdrew their original application in February 2012 before later re-submitting it.
Among those against the plans is Dean Johnson. He told the Globe earlier this week: "Ingleborough is a memorial for 2014 and these plans are disrespectful. The sale of the land would be a short-term fix for Tranmere, but wouldn't solve their problems long-term.
"The Birkenhead Institute Old Boys have made a concerted effort over the last year to stop this development from going ahead.
"It's been such a personal issue that's caused so much upset and has really galvanised us."
The Globe has asked Tranmere Rovers for a statement on the situation, but the club said it has no comment to make.
A council spokesperson said this week: "It would not be appropriate to comment ahead of the Planning Committee meeting where these plans – and all representations received in relation to them – will be given full consideration."