Chelsea FC looks to red card CapCo Earls Court plans

By Paul Norman - Thursday, February 16, 2012 15:00

Chelsea Football Club is attempting to block consent for Capital & Counties’ first phase plans for the Earls Court development tonight as it lobbies for the overall regeneration to include a new stadium, CoStar News can reveal.

In December CapCo confirmed it was to create a £130m 50:50 joint venture with the Far East’s Kwok family to develop the first phase of homes at the 77-acre project.

Detailed plans for the 7.5-acre Seagrave Road site, which is principally home to a car park, were lodged in June alongside two other outline applications for a Sir Terry Farrell-designed 11.4m sq ft scheme that in total proposes demolishing the Earls Court One and Two exhibition centres and building up to 7,500 homes and 2m sq ft of offices, retail and leisure including two hotels.

The plans for Seagrave Road go in front of Hammersmith & Fulham this evening.

They propose demolition of all existing buildings and the redevelopment of the site to provide 808 residential units, comprising eight residential blocks (Blocks A-H) ranging from 4-storeys (plus basement) to 16-storeys (plus basement) and including 30 townhouses.

In a written submission ahead of the meeting Chelsea FC calls for any decision to be deferred until a Supplementary Planning Document for the area is adopted taking into account its preference for the overall development to include a new stadium with conference and exhibition spaces.

It writes with regards to the application relating to the Seagrave Road site and the application relating to the main site: “The current applications fail to take advantage of the potential for a new strategic leisure, cultural and visitor attraction, such as might be provided by a new stadium with conference and exhibition spaces. (We) therefore consider the applications premature in advance of the EC&WKOA SPD and have requested that any decisions on the applications are deferred until the SPD has been adopted.”

Chelsea, owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has been linked on several occasions to the site alongside other nearby major development sites including the BBC’s White City site and Battersea Power Station.

At the end of last year it appointed  Mike Hussey’s Almacantar to look at options for a development of Battersera Power Station that would include a major new football stadium.

However, the club, advised by CBRE, is understood to favour a site at the north of the Earls Court project as it is closest to its current home and is well served by transport.

It is known to want to build a stadium that can accommodate closer to 60,000 fans than the 41,000 that it can fit into its current home at Stamford Bridge.

In November 2010 Chelsea denied reports in The Guardian that it had entered talks with CapCo to leave Stamford Bridge for a new purpose-built stadium at Earls Court and CapCo has also played down the idea that a major football stadium could form part of a principally high-value residential project.

Hammersmith & Fulham planners have recommended the “high quality” Seagrave Road development for approval tonight.

The 200 affordable housing units at the scheme would be provided on the basis of two alternative scenarios given that discussions over whether redevelopment of the council-owned West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates are included are ongoing.

If the residential accommodation is required for estate redevelopment purposes then the Seagrave Road scheme would provide the first phase of new affordable housing units in the Opportunity Area as part of a re-housing strategy for the existing residents of these estates. The 200 units would be provided for the council as social rented units, although the final "mix" would reflect the requirements of the families being re-housed, and the development has been designed to accommodate this flexibility.

In the event that the 200 residential units are not required as part of a re-housing strategy for existing residents, the “fallback position” is that the affordable housing could be provided as intermediate tenure, as part of a standalone scheme. CapCo has stated that this “fallback position safeguards its position in the event that estate redevelopment does not happen”.

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