Brentford FC, together with its development partner Be (formerly Willmott Dixon Residential), presented amendments to the approved Brentford Community Stadium development to members of the London Borough of Hounslow (LBH) Planning Committee last week, August 24, ahead of plans being submitted early September for the Council to consider. These are the final changes which, subject to approval by LBH, will mean construction of the new stadium will start early in 2018 with the aim of completion by late 2019 or early 2020.
Since the original planning permission was granted in June 2014, significant changes have taken place both within the development marketplace and in relation to English Premier League (EPL) football and Premiership rugby union requirements. As a result, the Club and Be have undertaken a detailed review, to ensure the stadium is Premier League compliant upon completion; to enhance the urban and residential design; and to reduce the risks from the stadium construction process and its future operation.
The result is a stadium that is smaller in capacity (down from 20,000 seats to 17,250) and which will be sited three metres south of its original location. This will allow the incorporation of a road at the northern perimeter to improve access through the site and ease the construction constraints imposed by a site bounded on all sides by railway lines. In addition, Be are taking this opportunity to revise the residential development to create a better and more integrated sense of place, with increased permeability. The stadium and the enabling residential development will remain within the planning envelope approved in 2014 and there is no increase in either the height or the overall number of homes within the residential development.
These amendments will not impact on the overall quality of the stadium. In fact, recent successful seasons in the Championship have only served to harden the resolve of the owner, Matthew Benham, and the management team of Brentford Football Club to continue its pursuit of EPL status. This is illustrated by the fact that a key amendment involves the inclusion of Premier League-compliant Outside Broadcast facilities within the stadium itself, together with facilities to meet the latest EPL requirements for lighting and media. Similarly, the new stadium will benefit from premium lounges with the capability of welcoming up to 3,000 guests. There is also provision for some safe standing, when legislation allows for this.
The facilities for the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust will not now be within the stadium itself. Instead, it’s proposed that the Trust’s offices, Learning Zone and Hounslow’s Interim Education Centre will be housed in the ground and first floor of the Central Eastern residential block, immediately next to the stadium, giving them dedicated facilities which can be used 365 days a year, something that was not possible if they had been located in the stadium.
The proposed amendments to the residential development are focussed around the first phase and specifically about improving the experience for all those who will come to enjoy the site. A new square which knits the apartment buildings and the stadium together provides a proper main entrance to the stadium, whilst the addition of non-residential uses around the square will make it somewhere people will want to come on non-match days. The look of the buildings has been improved to make them much more in keeping with the existing architecture in the local area and the apartment buildings themselves have been re-planned to better suit market needs. Of the 910 homes consented for the scheme, 487 will be delivered in the first phase with residents able to both rent and buy.
Cliff Crown, Chairman of Brentford FC said:
I would like to thank the fans of Brentford FC for their support and patience during this last stage of detailed planning. I know that some fans may be concerned that the capacity of the stadium will be reduced but it is critical that this project is as financially robust and deliverable as possible. I am delighted that we are continuing to prepare for life in the Premier League with enhanced media, Outside Broadcast and lighting facilities to make the stadium fully compliant from day one, with provision for safe standing as soon as legislation allows.
Conor Hayes, Chairman of Lionel Road Development Ltd and Corporate Adviser (appointed May 2016), added:
We are looking forward to submitting these planning amendments that are the final hurdle to us getting on site to start the stadium build itself. These proposals will help make the scheme as financially robust as possible, whilst still providing a high quality stadium and residential development that will help to regenerate this area, provide significant benefits to the local communities and deliver a Premier League ready stadium.
Matthew Townend, Managing Director at Be Living Ltd said:
We have had a very productive six months, working closely with the club. These proposed amendments will improve the fans’ experience as they approach and leave the stadium, enhance the amenity for future residents and, we believe, create a greater sense of place not just on match days, but all year round for everyone coming to the development.