AMBITIOUS plans to give Brentford Football Club a new home and increase West London’s housing supply into the bargain have received more mixed reactions during their second public airing.
Architects and backers of the Brentford Community Stadium project held a three-day exhibition last week and invited views and opinions from club supporters and local residents alike.
The event, which followed a similar one back in January, was well attended and overflowing with information on every aspect of the scheme from the proposed number and height of the blocks of flats, to transport links, and even what to do with Griffin Park, the club’s current home.
The scale of the plans is vast, but the basic aim is to create a modern 20,000 seater stadium on a triangle of land off Lionel Road South, near Kew Bridge, which club owner Matthew Benham purchased in June last year.
In order to fund the move, the club plan to sell off surrounding pockets of land for flats - to be built in blocks which could reach up to 14-storeys high - and also a hotel.
Ever since the news was first announced, the subject has been a hot topic locally with many different groups and individuals keen to have an input.
Friends Callum Taylor, Ross Tridgell, Simon English, and Phillip Huckle were among the visitors examining the exhibition boards and scale models on Friday (22).
Mr Taylor said: “We like what we’ve seen so far, but the parking situation looks like it needs work. It’s already an absolute nightmare getting to the ground by car for Tuesday night games as it is, looking at this plan I can only see it getting worse when they move.
“They told us they expect a large number of fans to walk from Gunnersbury station as it’s only 12 minutes away - but it isn’t, and they won't. Ultimately they haven’t got much to worry about from us, we’ll support the club no matter what they do - but they should be thinking about attracting a new generation of fans. That’s vital for the future of Brentford.”
Mr English pointed out several minor niggles with the scheme as a whole, but was keen to thrown his full weight behind the club and its plans: “Ultimately whatever they provide there can only bring good things for the club and the local community," he said
"We all want to see the fans happy, but also the local residents - they should be coming down there too. It's going to provide up-to-date facilities, a lot more income, and if it's open seven days a week that will give a lot more life to the area and give people plenty to do.
"There's also likely to be a lot more jobs generated, including the shops which will open on the estates - basically everyone will be a winner with this."
This week news emerged the club is seeking to partner up 50/50 with a rugby club - with rumours London Wasps could be set to leave their High Wycombe home and move back to the capital.
Mr English added: "We heard at the meeting that teaming up with a rugby club is the key way to make this whole project viable. That's fine, we're happy to share the ground and the facilities. But I do think Brentford should still be the main owners, as we've waited a long time for a new ground and should be able to call the shots."
It is the housing element which is concerning residents of Kew, Chiswick and Strand-on-the-Green most, with several visitors expressing serious concerns about the proposed height of the flats and their impact on the skyline of the area.
The plans did win backing from Hounslow Council’s deputy leader Councillor Colin Ellar, who revealed he had been part of an early bid to secure the Lionel Road site from then owners Railtrack back in 2002.
He said: “There were plans then for a monorail to be a central feature, but the owners wouldn’t gift us the land for free so everything stalled at that stage.
“It all came about because the owner at the time Ron Noades wanted to develop Griffin Park and we stipulated in order to get planning permission the club had to remain local. We know what it means to residents and supporters and I have to say this latest plan does look very impressive indeed.”
Hounslow Council will still have to give ultimate approval to the new plans and project manager Brian Burgess is hopeful the application will be made this May with construction planned for next year and a final completion date for the stadium of July 2016.
He said: "Once again we got a really good turn out and there was a huge amount of constructive feedback for us to process and respond to. There will be plenty more opportunities for people to get their opinions on this matter heard and we look forward to hearing more what people think."
For more information visit http://www.brentfordcommunitystadium.com/