Two years since Croydon Council gave a green light to Crystal Palace for a £100million new main stand at Selhurst Park, the club has still to sign off on the Section 106 agreement laid out in the planning permission.
The S106 agreement would require the club to pay for a range of transport and infrastructure improvements near the stadium, costing Palace a little more than £270,000.
According to a report on The Athletic sports website, “Crystal Palace have made significant progress on the proposed redevelopment”, though as recently as two months ago Steve Parish, the club chairman, told fans that he had yet to secure an agreement with Sainsbury’s for the purchase of their car park, another essential element of the redevelopment.
The club is also required to rehome six families of council tenants in new homes, as their plans would see their houses on Wooderson Close demolished.
The Athletic reports that Croydon Council has recently written to Parish to express concern about the uncertainty facing the residents in Wooderson Close and the slow progress of the scheme.
They quote a council source as saying, “An element that is growing increasingly urgent is entering into a firm commitment and timeline for replacing the homes of the tenants whose homes the club want to buy from the council.
“It’s not fair to leave those families up in the air. If they don’t sort that, the whole thing is off.
“The message is clear — the council has given approval to the principle of the development subject to agreement of this Section 106 deal — all the club need to do is reach an agreement and they are free to go ahead and redevelop the stadium, which everyone wants to see happen.”
Selhurst Park’s capacity is among the smallest in the Premier League and its pitch is too small to be used in UEFA-approved tournaments.
The £100million redevelopment is supposed to address both of those shortcomings of the century-old stadium, increasing the capacity overall from 25,486 to 34,259, with 7,873 more seats in the main stand.
Under the S106 agreement, the club would be required to spend:
- £46,270 on pedestrian improvements around Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Norwood Junction railway stations, and to pay for bus shelters on Whitehorse Lane
- £15,000 on management plans for those stations
- £100,000 on improving cycle routes to the stadium
- £10,000 towards developing the “masterplan” for the regeneration of the wider area
- £100,000 to encourage the use of sustainable transport and reduce the use of cars for travel to and from the stadium
The latter condition may sit uncomfortably with the club, as it continues to negotiate with Sainsbury’s over the supermarket car park, which the redevelopment would utilise for 200 car parking spaces.
In February, Parish told Eagles fans, “We’re negotiating with Sainsbury’s and we have put an offer into them for that land. Hopefully we can get a deal with them, it’s in everybody’s interest.
“We realise that environment has changed but we would also ask them to be sensible about what is basically a car park and can only be used as a car park. I think we are making a reasonable offer. It’s not a question about us throwing around money willy-nilly, we need to be circumspect.
“But we are absolutely committed to making that project happen.”
Of course, since planning permission was granted, Parish’s two cash-rich American co-owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, have made it known that they want to sell their share. Despite reports of a £200million takeover deal being lined up with a Middle East consortium, nothing has been forthcoming – placing doubts over any multi-million redevelopment budgets in the process.
And once the club signs off on its S106 agreement with the council and Mayor of London (who also has a role in schemes of this scale), the clock will be ticking: it will have just three years to start work on the new stand.
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