Some of you may be aware of stories in local media last week about proposed amendments to the new stadium and residential area so I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the latest plans.
You may not have seen much work going on at the Lionel Road South site over the summer but rest assured that the Club has been working hard with our development partner Willmott Dixon (now known as ‘Be’) to get ready for the next stage of the project.
Since the original planning permission was granted in June 2014, there have been a number of significant changes both within the residential marketplace and in relation to Premier League football and Premiership rugby union requirements. As a result, the Club and Be have undertaken a detailed review of our plans with a view to ensuring the stadium is Premier League compliant upon completion; enhancing the urban and residential design; and reducing the risks from the stadium construction process and its future operation.
The result is a stadium that is smaller in capacity (reduced from 20,000 seats to around 17,250) and which will be sited three metres south of its original location. This allows us to include a road at the northern perimeter of the site to make the construction process easier and also improve access once the site is complete. Be has also taken the opportunity to enhance their residential designs to make them more in keeping with local architecture and introduce a new square that brings together the apartment buildings with the stadium creating a more welcoming entrance to the stadium. Of the 910 homes consented for the scheme, 486 will be delivered in the first phase with residents able to both rent and buy.
The stadium and the enabling residential development will remain within the planning envelope approved in 2014 and there is no increase in height to the residential development.
The stadium itself has been improved to make it Premier League compliant from day one. We have moved the Outside Broadcast area to within the stadium to provide top-of-class facilities to our neighbours at Sky and others. Lighting and other media facilities have also been upgraded to meet the latest Premier League requirements. The smaller stadium size means that the Club Offices will now be housed elsewhere and there is no space for a Club Shop or dedicated Bees Pub, although there will of course be plenty of food and drink options available at the new stadium on matchdays. Brentford FC Community Sports Trust Offices, the Learning Zone and the Hounslow Interim Education Centre have also been moved, to the ground and first floor of the Central Eastern residential block, giving them a more prominent location with dedicated facilities that can be used 365 days a year.
Following feedback from our own market research, we have increased the number of premium seats in the new design from around 1,800 to up to 3,000, depending on demand – a key revenue stream for the Club going forward.
Importantly, we have maintained the provision for safe standing in the west stand as soon as legislation allows for this.
These are the final changes which, subject to approval by the London Borough of Hounslow, will mean construction of the new stadium will start early in 2018 with the aim of completion by late 2019 or early 2020.
As I write this, we are seeking the appropriate licences from the London Borough of Hounslow to go ahead with the demolition of the derelict Capital Court building on Capital Interchange Way and are also now finalising arrangements with Network Rail to undertake this work. This will be an important step forward in the delivery of the project and has been made possible by the successful completion of the Compulsory Purchase Order process.
I know that you will all have lots of questions about the changes to the design and some will be disappointed that the capacity has been reduced but our priority is to deliver a Premier League ready stadium and supporting residential areas that are financially robust, deliverable and designed to the highest quality achievable.
We are submitting the planning amendments to London Borough of Hounslow in September and leading up to that we have a number of events planned to share more information:
- 23rd August – Lionel Road Liaison Group meeting to brief local residents’ groups
- 24th August – pre-application presentation meeting for Planning Committee members at London Borough of Hounslow
- 7th September – Fans Forum
Further information will be shared on our website www.brentfordcommunitystadium.com over the coming weeks and any questions you have can also be submitted via this website.
So there is certainly lots going on and I would like to thank all fans for their patience and continued support. I would also like to apologise that it has not been possible to involve fans more in the development of the proposed changes to the stadium but the commercial sensitivities involved meant that it was just not possible to do so.