CFC have announced that they are to begin a process of consultation on local needs and it was an interesting - and guarded - statement from the club yesterday. The suggestion that there is no presumption on the part of the club is an olive branch to locals but we all know that designs exist. The statement also suggests that the club are looking at the possibilities within the "existing boundaries" of the site which would appear to count out Oswald Stoll or other properties. We are still, therefore, left with the difficult physical notion of getting a larger stadium into the half pint pot that is the 11.5 acre site......
The issues of egress are key, of course, and the old nugget of roofing over the railway tracks along to West Brompton is back. This also raises the question of Brompton Cemetery who will have to be involved in that process since the Royal Park's managed land abuts the railway tracks. Interestingly, the Royal Parks are in the process of bidding for money for a substantial renovation and conservation project for the cemetery and CFC may well consider becoming
a generous donor. Or, conversely, from that project may emerge fierce opposition..it is Crown land after all that they are about to beautify.More on the project here; http://www.royalparks.org.uk/projects/brompton-cemetery-conservation-project
So we would appear to be at the start of a long road; the pre-planning consultation, unquestionably at the behest of the council who will no doubt be intensely interested in the reaction of local residents, is a sensible move. The costs that may emerge from the consultation should the opposition be intensive (we expect it will be) along with the overall build costs of the project, will determine the eventual outcome.
Our concern is that there is some cynicism afoot already which essentially proposes that the club is merely going through the process in order to prove an expansion of SB is NOT feasible, given costs and resident opposition. The club, ironically, is partly in its current position because of the behaviour of the previous council administration who successfully contributed to scuppering the vote in October 2011 which would have seen the club in a stronger position over EC. However, that is in the past but it is not unreasonable to believe that the new administration is nervous too. Access to West Brompton will probably require the co-operation of CapCo who are developing the Seagrave Road car park scheme, past which a walkway will run - but the new council is in the process of challenging the EC development (to which it is hostile) and the sale of West Ken and Gibbs Green Estates. That little triangle of animosity will be a curious one to watch and CFC are again in the middle of it.
We expect the club is genuinely trying to tease out the extent of any opposition to the idea of SB expansion. We hope fans will listen to the results. What is abundantly clear is that any development is now going to involve huge additional costs, substantial contributions to local projects and a hell of a lot of argument. The development will also take a great deal of time. If Roman has decided to commit the money and can find a sensible solution then we would all be happy that the club can remain at Stamford Bridge. We remain sceptical that it is possible with all that will be against it. But the club are trying and we look forward to the results of the study.