Chelsea given permission to expand Stamford Bridge

The West London club are hoping to increase the ground’s capacity to 60,000 by 2021

An artist’s impression of how the new £500m Stamford Bridge would look. Photograph: Herzog & De Meuron

An artist’s impression of how the new £500m Stamford Bridge would look. Photograph: Herzog & De Meuron

 

Chelsea have been given the go-ahead to rebuild Stamford Bridge in plans that would expand the ground’s capacity to 60,000 seats.

A meeting of the planning and development committee of Hammersmith & Fulham council unanimously approved plans submitted by the club for a new stadium that would cost at least £500m and could be completed in time for the 2021-22 season. In a further vote, the council agreed to revisit some concerns about the plans, including the ability to park near the ground and construction and demolition planning.

Design of the new stadium has been led by the Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron, the company responsible for Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium and Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena. Apparently inspired by Westminster Abbey, its exterior will be defined by vast arches, or “brick piers”, made of London stock brick.

Hammersmith & Fulham councillors variously described the proposed design as “a significant, high quality design” and “a gorgeous building, absolutely gorgeous.”

With a pitch below ground level and underground entrances for home and away fans, it will be a very different stadium from that which Chelsea have called their home since 1905.

In order to maximise the scale of the new stadium, buildings that surround the current Stamford Bridge, known as the Chelsea Village, will be demolished. There will also be broad walkways built over the two rail lines that flank the stadium.

The new ground would have more than 13,000 extra seats for general admission, while corporate seating would double to 9,200. There would also be expanded provision for disabled supporters, but the seats afforded to visiting fans would remain the same, at 3,000.

Chelsea have been looking to build a stadium that competes in size with those of their Premier League rivals for a number of years. Plans to leave Stamford Bridge altogether, with Battersea Power Station a potential new site, were blocked in 2011 by Chelsea Pitch Owners, the group that holds the freehold on Stamford Bridge. It is understood CPO is now likely to approve the new stadium plans at its AGM later this month.

Chelsea currently have the seventh biggest ground in the Premier League and the third biggest in London, behind Arsenal and West Ham. Tottenham Hotspur will also move ahead of Chelsea when the new White Hart Lane is completed in 2018. It is estimated however, that with the new Stamford Bridge, Chelsea could match Arsenal’s current matchday turnover of £100m a year from the Emirates Stadium which Arsenal moved to from Highbury in 2006.

Development will mean that the football club will be forced to find a temporary home for around three seasons. Wembley Stadium remains an option, though Tottenham already have a groundshare deal in place there for next season. Relocating to the national rugby stadium at Twickenham has also been mooted.

(Guardian service)

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