Plans for a new football and rugby stadium in Hounslow appear to be gaining momentum.
In the last month, Hounslow borough has completed compulsory purchase orders to take control of the proposed stadium site. And it has been confirmed the authority is in formal talks with London Irish rugby club, to see if they can share the facility.
A new, 20,000 capacity stadium was granted permission in 2013, on a site in Lionel Road, Brentford. But the scheme required the local authority to draw the site together, and it has enacted CPOs to acquire the freeholds of the Lionel Road South, Duffy and Capital Court sites.
While section 106 agreements still need to be completed, there are hopes that construction work could commence early next year, for a 2019 completion.
CPOs were necessary as the council was unable to agree a mutually satisfactory price with landowners. First Industrial, which owned the Capital Court office block adjacent to the stadium site, said it had been offered £2.5 million for a site it said had cost it £8.5 million.
Close to 650 new homes will be built on three parcels of land adjacent to the stadium, to help fund the development. Those homes, in blocks up to 15 storeys high, were approved by Hounslow planners in December. The project includes 304 apartments for private sale, with the remaining 344 to be held for long term private rental through be:here, the PRS brand of developer Willmott Dixon.
“Brentford Football Club’s vision is to have a new 20,000-seat Brentford Community Stadium for both professional football and rugby, subject to the relevant planning permission,” said the football club. “London Irish started formal discussions with London Borough of Hounslow on Aug 15 to explore the potential to play rugby at Brentford Community Stadium.”
And London Irish, who left the capital some years ago and currently play at Reading FC’s Madejski stadium, confirmed the talks, adding: “Over the past decade London Irish has been linked with a number of possible stadium developments in London as the club kept the possibility of returning to its roots in the capital under consideration. Numerous discussions have taken place with a variety of clubs over the last five years with a view to a possible ground share or joint stadium development.”
And councillor Steve Curran, leader of Hounslow Council said; “The new stadium is an exciting development that will be a real boost to Brentford and to the borough as a whole. Having a major rugby club based there as well as Brentford Football Club would be a real bonus, and London Irish are a fantastic club that has a track record of building strong links with the community and local schools. The council will work closely with all concerned to ensure a successful outcome.”
The football club’s Griffin Park home will be redeveloped as housing, once the club has vacated it.
LPA Perspective: In planning terms, it makes absolute sense to place a sports stadium close to transport infrastructure, so Brentford’s move from Griffin Park, in a residential area, to the far better new site, is entirely logical. Close to Kew Bridge station, it is also alongside the South Circular, North Circular and M4 motorway. The scheme also introduces new, dense residential blocks close to that same infrastructure, as a way of helping to pay for the stadium.
What also makes complete sense is for a football club and an established rugby club to share facilities. This has been made to work elsewhere, and it is only pride and dysfunctional club managements that prevent such arrangements being struck far more widely.