The planning permission for Crystal Palace to redevelop their main stand in a £100million project at Selhurst Park has lapsed – leaving the club to go through a costly re-application process, or to continue to play their games in one of the smallest capacity stadiums in the Premier League.
Chairman Steve Parish and the club were granted planning permission by Croydon Council in April 2018 to rebuild the main stand. Under the proposals, the stadium capacity was to be increased by almost 10,000, to 34,259.
But to fulfil its plans, the football club needed to acquire land and property from its near neighbours, including seven houses – six of them council-owned – on Wooderson Close, which backs on to the current main stand.
The Wooderson Close residents have been enduring uncertainty over their homes’ futures for four years, a situation which now seems likely to continue for some time yet.
In 2018, Parish and Palace were confident that the whole project could be completed in three years. Now, it seems unlikely that Palace will have their shiny new, and bigger, stadium by the time of Selhurst Park’s centenary, in 2024.
According to reports earlier this year, negotiations between the club and the council had progressed well. In 2020, there was agreement to the scheme from the Mayor of London’s office, with the local area to benefit with up to £1million of community levy payments from the football club, including the costs of re-homing the Wooderson residents.
The final piece of the jigsaw remained a pocket of land, currently used for car parking, and an agreement with Sainsbury’s, who operate a supermarket on the site.
Sainsbury’s have long been seen as a brake on the development, playing hard-ball over their property which they have been quoted as saying they would sell at a “commercial” price. Despite reports claiming that Croydon Council had agreed in principle to conduct a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the required land from Sainsbury’s, the development has failed to be progressed.
It was in 2020 – two years after planning permission was granted – that the sports website The Athletic, whose Crystal Palace correspondent is well-connected to Parish and the club, reported that agreement had finally been reached with the council over the extent of the Section 106 levies to be paid by Palace in return for the planning consent.
Dealings with the council planning officials had been slow-going. “Conversations are understood to have taken place at the end of last year and have continued into this one, although it is only in those recent meetings that real progress has been made,” The Athletic reported, giving an indicator of the slow pace of the discussions.
And all this, of course, was before “normal” business was disrupted by the covid pandemic, and before any dealings with Croydon’s cash-strapped council virtually hit the buffers when the Town Hall’s own finances collapsed.
Today, a Katharine Street source said, “Here is a scheme that all parties want to go ahead, and yet four years on, we’re back at Square One.
“If you wanted a case study of the shortcomings of the council’s planning department, then this is surely it.”
Under the plans as originally submitted in 2018, a new main stand would hold 13,500 spectators — up from 5,627 — with lots of additional, and lucrative, “prawn sandwich” corporate boxes. The gap in the corner of the stadium between the Holmesdale Road Stand at the south end of the stadium and the Arthur Wait Stand on its eastern side would also be filled, with an additional 683 seats.
The redevelopment would also be used to bring the old stadium up-to-date with the demands of the modern game.
That would involve extending the length of the pitch from 101.5 to 105metres, making it compliant with the latest international regulations; Brentford’s new ground meets these specifications, which is why they have been able to host some games in the current women’s Euros being staged in England, including last night’s match between Germany and Spain.
But those changes to the size of the pitch would also see 1,170 seats lost in the Whitehorse Lane Stand.
Re-applying for planning permission could take anything up to a year, and as a major scheme, it will need to be reconsidered by the Mayor of London.
To meet the conditions of the GLA’s London PLan, there must be “no net loss of affordable housing” and a “no net loss of dwellings scheme” in the borough.
According to The Athletic’s reporting, “Palace, therefore, must meet the cost of purchasing those homes and rehousing any displaced tenants, including moving costs and compensation of at least £6,000 each, and also by funding the construction of six equivalent four-bedroom houses elsewhere.
“These must be located as close to the current site as is reasonably possible.”
Estimates suggest that the stadium redevelopment has already cost the club £1million in preparation work, but that there remains “a firm commitment to the redevelopment of Selhurst Park” by the club.
This morning, Inside Croydon asked Crystal Palace for a statement on the current situation with the redevelopment. We also asked whether the club has ever had the funding in place to complete the project, and whether, if the club is to come forward with revised plans, how these proposals will be funded.
At the time of publication, no one at Crystal Palace FC had responded to our questions.
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£100m is relatively little in football terms. Palace BOD have always been cheap so we knew this would happen. Building things in Croydon always takes forever to get done with all kinds of excuses . Palace’s American director Josh Harris already wanted to bid for Chelsea FC, so the writing was on the wall
What an insultingly banal design this is. A glass cake with blinkers from a cart horse. Truly mediocre but on a huge scale. How can it be this bad?
I see three forces at play here:
1. Cllr Paul Scott
2. Croydon Review Panel
3. Croydon Design Champion.
the people of Croydon will rest easy in their beds tonight knowing this shite edifice has expired.
I know it’s been suggested before, but just build a new Stadium on Purley Way playing fields (or over the road on the Airport site). Then the local residents would have something to complain about every fortnight or so, rather than just for that “party event” at the beginning of the month.
At least the Council would get some money and wouldn’t have to cut the grass – which presumably only happened recently because of the aforementioned event. Before that, as in other parks and open-spaces, the grass was more like a mini-forest. Try playing football on the pitches that were not cared-for for months.
Pete-please, don’t concrete over the Purley Way playing fields !