Wednesday 1 February 2012

Earl's Court and H&F's dangerous game

Many of you may not have noticed the shenanigans over at the Earl's Court development.
The whole project (being closely scrutinised by Boris and in financial as well as political difficulty) is hanging by a thread. CFCTruth have given past pointers on some of the underlying issues but we are intrigued to hear of recent turmoil. You can read about it here

So what is this all about? Well, it is a very strong indicator of why H&F are playing silly games with Chelsea FC. H&F under the soon to depart Greenhalgh are a very avaricious council; cut, commercialise and privatise is their motto. The CapCo development is an opportunity for them to claw in £100 million from the sale of the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates, get some free housing and rid themselves of what is considered a difficult social hotspot. With the resignation of two key individuals the already difficult situation is made more so; read the linked article. If the residents of those two estates manage to block the sale then the whole development is in danger - and with huge numbers of objectors and countless forced revisions it is not exactly in a good place now.

Added to this cocktail of uncertainty is the prospect of Chelsea FC riding to CapCo's financial rescue (their statements in the article are fooling nobody who is aware of their parlous financial state) and offering a reduced development of housing and facilities which includes a stadium - a prospect, we are happy to inform you, our dear Mayor would welcome. Now, with the horrendously strong objections currently being aired by the residents around Earl's Court, one might think that a stadium stood little chance. You would be partly right; but would they prefer 7000 homes and all the attendant traffic and constant populous that would bring or 3000 homes and a stadium that attracted 60k every fortnight with new stations and access? It makes one think..

So why wouldn't H&F welcome that? Well, were such a plan be put into the mix once the current planning nightmare is ended, the Mayor may well choose to reassume the entire development under his office. The council wouldn't get their £100 million because there would be no need to incorporate the West Ken estate in such a plan. They would also have the entirely new project that would be the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, a project from which they might gather some social housing, but not much - and certainly not £100 million - and the residents of Fulham will be as cussed as those in Earl's Court.

Of course, there would be no guarantees that all of this would pan out the way CapCo and Chelsea wanted it to but H&F are taking no chances. Their chosen policy is to prevent Chelsea from moving away from their current site. Unless it is to a well known development in the
NW of the borough...but Chelsea have canned any thought of that so the council are in a bind. In order to prevent the club from putting their oar in at EC, the council have basically chosen to pursue a route, via SayNoCPO, helping fan the flames of mistrust and suspicion that the club have not considered development of SB. In so doing, they are hoping beyond hope, that the CPO share transfer will never be countenanced. In reality, this is a delaying tactic, designed to try and get the CapCo development over the line and thus remove the threat of a Chelsea bail out. Added to this is the fact that CapCo indeed see Chelsea as their Knight in Shining armour; CapCo will be quids in whichever development wins.

The resignation of Osband and Hall is a serious blow to H&F because we must realise this company was set up to essentially sell the idea to residents. Chelsea must now crank the pressure up on H&F. Their email to a Sayno questioner at the AGM in which they claimed, after meetings with the club, that Stamford Bridge COULD be developed (after, it has to be acknowledged, telling Sayno that NO discussions have taken place!) must be expanded upon by the council if they want us to believe there is anything other than greed behind their attempts to sow mistrust and suspicion among Chelsea fans. They are playing a risky game and it just got a hell of a lot more precarious.

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