Football club Tottenham Hotspur is promising it will deliver the finest stadium in the world, after it was granted mayoral permission to redevelop its White Hart Lane home.
A £400 million project to revitalise the football ground was given the blessing of Haringey councillors in December, but was of a scale that needed approval from Boris Johnson too.
The club has also jumped a major hurdle, after a local catering equipment business lost a High Court appeal against a compulsory purchase order. The owners of Archway Metal Works, who owned a site adjacent to the existing ground, asked for the order to be declared “unlawful and invalid”.
The makeover will lift stadium capacity from the current 36,000 to a total of 61,000, making it the largest capacity football ground in the capital. There will be a retractable pitch with an artificial grass layer beneath, allowing the facility to host American Football games and other events.
A club museum, hotel, sports and health centre will be included in the project, along with a “sky walk” allowing visitors to climb the south stand for a view across the capital’s rooftops from a high level viewing platform. The stadium design will include the largest single tier stand in the UK, with a 17,000 seat capacity.
On the south east part of the site will be four residential blocks of between 16 and 32 storeys, containing a total of 579 apartments. A new public square, raised on a pedestrian podium, will link the High Road with Worcester Avenue and link to the concourse level of the stadium.
There are also plans for an extreme sports facility, which would include a climbing wall up the side of a proposed hotel, along with a scuba diving tank and rooftop cafe bar.
“White Hart Lane is already an iconic stadium, steeped in history, and the new venue will not only almost double its capacity, but provide world-class facilities to watch Premier League football, international sports events and concerts in the heart of the capital,” said Johnson.
“The stadium will also be the focal point of a major drive to regenerate Tottenham, breathing new life into the area, creating jobs and boosting growth.”
The hope is that the works will be completed in time for the club to start playing 2018/19 season matches at the new stadium. In the meantime, Spurs is looking to decamp, perhaps to Wembley, while the building work takes place. The new ground will be partly be built alongside the existing one, but the two footprints do, partly, overlap.
A deal with the NFL from the USA will see at least two American football games played at the stadium, every year for the following decade.
The stadium redevelopment is a key part of the mayor’s efforts to improve this part of north London. The mayor’s Regeneration Fund and the London Enterprise Fund have committed £28 million to rejuvenate Tottenham High Road, improve the local roads and parking, and upgrade tottenham Hale station.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy noted: “This new scheme carries enormous public benefits and will play a key role in kick-starting place change, bringing exceptional opportunities for the local community and wider stakeholders. We are proud to be part of this important step forward for an area that has been our home for more than 130 years and where we shall continue to live and play our part.”
The football club first began looking at options to extend White Hart Lane back in 2008, eyeing adjacent industrial sites to expand its facilities onto. A stadium design was proposed, with hopes of having it completed by 2013, with a planning application submitted in 2009.
But the locals were not for selling up without a fight. A public inquiry reviewing compulsory purchase requirements was held in 2013, with compulsory purchase orders issued in July 2014. The delays have allowed for further development of the design, including growing the seating capacity to its current level.
The original stadium design was developed by KSS Design Group and Buro Happold. In 2015, a new team was assembled, with Populous working on the stadium, Allies and Morrison on the residential elements, and Donald Insall Associates on heritage elements.
LPA Perspective: The upheaval of rebuilding on an existing site, has to be offset against the benefits of keeping this major draw in the centre of Tottenham. The football club has been through a bruising round of compulsory purchase to get the additional land it needed alongside the existing club, but now looks poised to deliver a major new landmark, along with some substantial benefits for the local area.
The irony is that some of the recalcitrant local business owners declared themselves Spurs fans, all the while holding out for a better offer and pushing the project down the route of using compulsory purchase, to secure all of the additional space needed.
Thanks to the delays incurred along the way, a number of public transport improvements are now in the pipeline, for delivery before the ground reopens. Capacity upgrades and station expansions will mean visitors to the stadium can rely on public transport to arrive and leave, reducing pressure on the local road system.
The stadium design, with its large single tier stand, aims to ensure the atmosphere of the old ground is retained. One criticism levelled at rival Arsenal’s new stadium is that it lacks atmosphere, while the club struggles to fill it. Despite the size and the wish to use the ground for other purposes, there will not be a retractable roof.
The deal with the NFL to host American football games is also potentially interesting, not just for the financial guarantee it provides. The exposure of the club to a US television audience is reckoned to be important too – will Tottenham become a must-see part of London for American tourists?