Is that a new stadium way out in the distance?
Any QPR supporter who looks at the Mayor of London’s current consultation on the Old Oak regeneration would be forgiven for thinking that not much progress has been made towards a new QPR stadium.
In December 2013 the club announced the new stadium proposal and that there was a letter of collaboration with the Greater London Authority on the project.
In 2013 the GLA issued a consultation document that included a map on which a stadium was clearly marked.
In 2015 the GLA have published a more detailed map and… there’s no stadium! And no mention of New Queens Park either (the club’s name for the development).
Nothing is set in stone, but the planners have been busy and the documentation is very thorough in setting out what they want to see at Old Oak. This runs from how the electricity supply would get into the area, where roads and bridges might be, how many schools, and GP practices there need to be, down to how wide the streets should be, and the open spaces needed. The document they are consulting on is the guide to prospective developers on what the planners will want to see in proposals for the area – the planning framework. They brought their plans to three meetings in west London on 10, 11 and 14 March.
Within Old Oak there are two areas – one which will be developed before 2026, and one which will be after 2026. The club claims it “has control” of 100 acres at Old Oak. It is not clear what that means, and it is not referred to in the GLA documents. What it makes clear is something we already know – that most of the pre-2026 development area is owned by Car Giant.
The documentation does refer briefly, in an appendix, to QPR having consulted on its proposal and that Car Giant is progressing proposals to develop its land. Both are expected to make planning applications next month. We know Car Giant has spent a great deal of money bringing in big-hitters in the regeneration world to draw up their proposals.
The unique selling point for the QPR proposals is, of course, the stadium. While no stadium appears in this year’s maps, the benefit of having something like this in the mix to give the regeneration a kick start is recognised. Tucked away on page 120 of the planning framework document is the statement that the pre-2026 area “has the potential for early delivery of new homes, infrastructure and large-scale uses such as a new educational facility, football stadium, sports complex, health, arts leisure or cultural centre, which could act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the area”.
The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, chaired by Boris Johnson, will be taking over planning control for the new development in April.
So what will Boris do? Will he hand the whole massive scheme over to the football club that, by any sensible measure, is broke (but is owned by rich guys) or let the very profitable company that owns the land take the lead?
A Development Corporation officer at one of the meetings implied there might not be a knock-out blow. Instead the corporation may encourage developers to work together.
Perhaps this is a reason why QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has been raising the issue of talking to Car Giant recently. (Talking more a year ago might have made sense too.)
So, a new stadium at Old Oak is still possible, but it may need compromise from those QPR directors who would financially benefit from the wider New Queens Park regeneration.
And it looks like we will be in our home at Loftus Road for quite some years yet.
More information on the draft Opportunity Area Planning Framework is available on the Greater London Authority website at https://www.london.gov.uk/oldoakandparkroyal
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