RAIL workers are preparing to protest against the Earls Court redevelopment amid fresh rumours of Chelsea Football Club’s interest in moving to the area.
The Premier League side is looking for a site where it can build a stadium with a bigger capacity than its current home at Stamford Bridge, and it has long been suggested it views Earls Court as an option.
Any new ground would be built at the Lillie Bridge Depot, a major maintenance plant for London Underground which employs 500 people.
The plot is also part of Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s masterplan for the area, where 8,000 new homes and scores of amenities could be built.
But Transport for London, which owns the land, has not come to an agreement with developers CapCo and there are suggestions it is looking to put it on the open market, paving the way for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to make a bid.
Either option will be met with fierce resistance by the RMT and Unite unions, which have sent leaflets to members with the tag line ‘Jobs and housing for workers not cribs for the super rich, defend Lillie Bridge Depot’, urging them to fight to keep their jobs there.
Jonathan Rosenberg, who is representing 800 residents on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates who would lose their homes if the CapCo development goes ahead, said if Chelsea moved to Earls Court it would destroy the developer’s plans.
"They simply wouldn’t be feasible any more," he said.
TfL’s director of commercial development, Graeme Craig, said it remained ‘committed to the regeneration’ of the area.
“We continue to seek to reach an agreement with our leaseholder, CapCo, in relation to its freehold interest in the land around the existing Earls Court 1 and 2, and hope that these discussions can be concluded shortly. We are also assessing how we might take forward the development of Lillie Bridge Depot. Any such development will be in line with the agreed Master plan.”
CapCo said: “As TfL has made clear in its statement, any development at Earls Court will be in line with the consented masterplan. Discussions between Capco and TfL continue to progress well.”
Chelsea FC declined to comment.