Chelsea get boost as Stamford Bridge development approved
LONDON -- Chelsea have been granted planning approval for the demolition of Stamford Bridge and construction of a new 60,000-seater stadium.
Members of Hammersmith and Fulham Council's Planning and Development Control Committee gave the green light for the £500 million project after several hours of intense deliberation at Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday.
The committee heard from speakers both for and against the redevelopment, with many of the objectors local residents raising concerns about disruption caused by the construction process, the overbearing nature of the proposed stadium design and damage to conservation areas in the vicinity of Stamford Bridge.
Speakers in favour of the project included representatives from Chelsea's holding company Fordstam Limited and David Johnstone, editor of cfcuk fanzine, who stressed the need for a "total rebuild" of Stamford Bridge to ensure the continued prosperity of the club and the borough as a whole.
The vote is unanimous: Chelsea's new stadium has been granted planning approval. by the committee, subject to minor amendments #cfc- Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) January 11, 2017
The decision is the culmination of several years of hard work for Roman Abramovich's project team, who first submitted the stadium plans for planning approval in November 2015 and revised them last year -- though the committee's decision is still subject to appeal.
Chelsea later issued a statement which read: "Over the past 12 months we have consulted widely with neighbouring residents, local businesses, statutory authorities and continued to work closely with the council. Tonight the council's planning committee considered the application and we are grateful that planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of our historic home.
"The committee decision does not mean that work can begin on site. This is just the latest step, although a significant one, that we have to take before we can commence work, including obtaining various other permissions. We will continue to inform you of progress throughout this process. Thank you for your continued support."
Those driving the stadium redevelopment project will now focus on working with council officers to formalise the planning committee approval into full planning consent, as well as securing the support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
A more detailed design for the stadium must also be completed, while further collaborative work with Network Rail and Transport for London is required to ensure the safe and efficient passage of thousands of supporters to and from Stamford Bridge on match days.
The plan will require Chelsea to move into a temporary home -- most likely to be Wembley -- for three years while Stamford Bridge is demolished and the new stadium is constructed, with the current estimate that it will be ready in time for the start of the 2021-22 season.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.