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Tottenham FC's stadium plans rejected

Thu 20th May 2010 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Tottenham Hotspur have been forced to abandon their plan to redevelop White Hart Lane, throwing into disarray their hopes of playing football in a new 56,000-seat stadium by 2012 according to the Times newspaper.

The original proposal, which was submitted to Haringey Council last October, has been withdrawn after Tottenham failed to convince English Heritage and conservation officials that developers should be permitted to demolish four listed buildings on the southwest corner of the site.

The club will present a revised plan, which has reduced housing and retains the listed properties, to the council this week. However, approval of the amended scheme is far from certain and a source close to the process said: “There are still issues to be resolved, particularly in relation to transport and with regard to the [planned] supermarket. Also, conservation and listed building consent will be required for extensive demolition on the High Road, which has yet to be resolved.”

Sources close to the project said that the postponed meeting with Haringey Council — which is likely only to take place once the club are confident that they have a plan that will be approved — will probably be delayed until the autumn, at the earliest.

“The first application [was] of concern to us,” English Heritage said. “The amended application, which we are anticipating coming to us, will cause less [historic] harm. It will go to our advisory committee for consideration. That will take months rather than weeks, as this is not a small development. This is something that needs very careful consideration.”

The glitches with the new stadium project are not the first time that Tottenham have experienced problems with the planning process. In 2003, planning permission for a “state-of-the-art training centre and football academy” near Abridge, Essex, was refused by Epping Forest District Council’s district development committee. Having abandoned those plans, the club are building their new academy in Bulls Cross, Enfield.

“In much the same way as we persevered and delivered the training centre, we remain focused and committed to delivering a world-class, increased-capacity stadium, full of atmosphere and creating a thriving new environment on the High Road, which would deliver regeneration benefits so important to this part of the borough and the local community,” Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, said. “There is undoubtedly huge support for the development.”

However, that is only part of the story because Tottenham’s approach to the project has infuriated some observers. In January the Government’s advisory body on architecture, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, wrote to Haringey Council to express how it was “disappointed that important, previously raised, concerns about the nature of the buildings to the north and south of the stadium remain unresolved”. The body concluded: “Regrettably, we cannot support the planning application as a whole.”

The club plan to build their new ground adjacent to the existing White Hart Lane stadium. On launching the redevelopment, Tottenham stated that they hoped to move into a partially built new stadium for the 2012-13 season, with the completed 56,250-seat venue ready for the next campaign. However, that timeline depended on a smooth planning process.

It is not clear how the delays and changes might affect Tottenham’s financial projections for the redevelopment or how the club might fund the scheme. A new stadium, and the revenues it generates, is seen as a cornerstone of helping the team to re-establish themselves as a serious force in English football.

The existing 36,000-capacity stadium has remained unchanged for more than a decade and Tottenham have more than 70,000 registered club members and a waiting list for season tickets of more than 23,000 fans, so the rationale for the project seems obvious. However, the planning constraints have forced Tottenham into cutbacks, including a reduction in the number of residential units, from 434 to 200.

Tottenham have refused to declare the cost of building the new ground, but reports suggest that it will be comparable to the £400 million that Arsenal spent to build the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal funded that project through debt, which was viewed as a drain on the club’s transfer budget.

The amount that Tottenham will have to raise to fund the development will depend on how successful they are at selling the stadium’s naming rights and attracting commercial partners.


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