Land surrounding venue will be prepared for £500m leisure project and stadium expansion

Arup and Turner & Townsend have been drafted in to prepare the land around Manchester City’s stadium for a major leisure complex worth an estimated £500m.

A planning application lodged this month by Arup shows plans to remediate 17 acres of the former coal pit around the City of Manchester stadium. This had been earmarked for a supercasino but has been sitting empty since the project was ditched by Gordon Brown in 2007.

Turner & Townsend is acting as cost consultant, while engineer Arup could see its role extended to include the expansion of the 47,726-capacity stadium itself, a source close to the situation said.

The source said: “It looks like they’re preparing the ground to unlock the development potential around the stadium in two to three years. They’re also looking at expanding the stadium’s capacity, but the club’s Abu Dhabi owners are unlikely to want to make a big noise about it right now with millions of pounds of fees unpaid in the Middle East.”

It is believed Abu Dhabi United Group, the owner of Manchester City, is drawing up development plans for the project with Building Design Partnership.

Manchester City would not confirm or deny the rumours. It said: “The project is yet to be finalised and we will give out more information in due course.”

Regeneration body New East Manchester, which is overseeing the project for the council, said a tender for a developer and operator for the leisure complex had been issued.

Manchester council is set to approve the planning application for remediation in May 2010. The work will include removal of underground structures, treatment of excavated material and the demolition of the visitors’ centre.