Pics: How Stamford Bridge will look after £500million redevelopment
Chelsea have been granted planning permission for a £500million redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, the club have announced.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council's planning committee voted unanimously to approve the proposal for a 60,000-seat stadium at a meeting on Wednesday evening.
A statement on the club's official website, www.chelseafc.com, said: "More than a year ago, a planning application for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge with an expanded seating capacity was submitted to our local council, Hammersmith & Fulham.
"Over the past 12 months, we have consulted widely with neighbouring residents, local businesses, statutory authorities and continued to work closely with the council.
"Tonight the council's planning committee considered the application and we are grateful that planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of our historic home.
"The committee decision does not mean that work can begin on site. This is just the latest step, although a significant one, that we have to take before we can commence work, including obtaining various other permissions."
The news was welcomed by Chelsea Pitch Owners, the group which owns the freehold to the land on which the stadium sits.
A statement said: "The board of Chelsea Pitch Owners welcomes the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham's approval of the planning application for the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge.
"We believe the plans will provide a world-class stadium and the bold architectural design will enhance the local area.
"As a supporter-based organisation and owner of the freehold of the land on which the current stadium lies - a role that is unique among the leading clubs in England - CPO was set up to ensure the club remains at the Bridge, its home since 1905.
"That goal looks more secure than it has for many years following the planning approval. We look forward to continued co-operation with the club on this exciting project."
Members of the council's planning and development control committee had been recommended to approve the application, but arguments for and against were aired during discussions which lasted almost three hours.
Several objectors spoke against the proposal, citing the impact the development would have on residents and the environment.
However, there was no dissension when it came to the vote and now Chelsea will be able to plan for the next phase of the project.
That will involve working closely with council officers to gain full planning consent and also finalising the design of the new venue and logistics plans for the surrounding area.
In addition, the club will set up a residents' forum to identify and address issues which may arise.
The club have looked at alternative sites, including Battersea Power Station, as they seek to increase their current capacity of 41,663 - currently the seventh biggest in the Premier League - but have decided redeveloping Stamford Bridge, with owner Roman Abramovich footing the bill, is the best option despite logistical difficulties.
Should the development go ahead, Chelsea would have to find a temporary home with Twickenham and Wembley having been mooted as options.