Friday 17 February 2012

Round one

As expected, Hammersmith and Fulham council granted permission for the Seagrave Road housing development last night. This is the first of many phases in the Earl's Court development and has no direct material effect on Chelsea's hopes but it is an important and symbolic moment upon which Chelsea have leapt in order to make their point. The permission now goes to the Mayor for sign off.

In the huge report put to committee, there are hundreds of objections. Even the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea wanted the scheme scrapped. There are concerns, too, about flooding. However, despite these, and of course, Chelsea's own submission relating to the irregularity concerning the draft Statutory Development Plan, the council and its officers forged ahead and ignored all of them. This is hardly surprising because the Seagrave Road development is critical to their hopes of securing the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates as part of the joint CapCo and Council development of Earl's Court. Indeed, in the planning report, the council officers referred to the need for the 200 units within Seagrave Road's plans for relocation of WK and GG residents "should the housing department wish to dispose of the estates". An interesting statement that is rendered even more so by the fact that among the fierce objectors to Seagrave Road were the two residents associations of those estates...the people the council are trying to persuade to move there!

And to add to the doubt that obviously surrounds the outcome of those consultations, in their press release this morning CapCo said;

"The project includes 200 affordable homes that will be made available for the relocation of some residents of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates in the event that regeneration of these estates occurs."

So no counting chickens.

We have also come into possession of some information that suggests there are more positive signals from Hammersmith and Fulham that the draft SPD may be changed to include a possible stadium. This could be H&F seeing the light and realising that they are under pressure from all sides. It would do them no harm to try to keep their options open should WK and GG estates not accede to their plans, necessitating the rethink of the EC master-plan. They may well find themselves in clover should they lose their affordable homes and Chelsea offer something nice for them at SB....

Finally, we hear that the club are still discussing SB with the council. The desperate and somewhat ludicrous statements from H&F about the possibilities at SB (and we hope you have come to realise why they made them) will hopefully be nailed once and for all with a joint statement some time in the not too distant. Our understanding is that the possibilities, such as they are, will be horrendously expensive and simply unworkable. That is a business case and whatever the outcome fans will be able to have a clear picture. As one insider told us, "Chelsea are not enamoured with the council's propensity to spend their money for them!"

What this all means, of course, is that Chelsea seem full steam ahead on EC. You will no doubt wonder why the club haven't made statements about all of this. In fact, they have. A very full one in the planning below. People have questioned why they couldn't say all of this before the EGM? They couldn't because it was an extremely difficult situation with all sides playing their own games. It has now unavoidably, because of the planning process, come to light. You need to take account of one thing, if it helps; Chelsea made representations to H&F and the GLA in April last year, backed by the Mayor, that the draft SPD should include the provision of a stadium....

Now go get em Roman.

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