Thursday 22 February 2018

Club eyes Battersea icon in Chelsea power show

Peter Flanagan

THE prospect of Chelsea Football Club moving to Battersea Power Station came a step closer yesterday after the football club appointed a developer to explore building a new stadium at the site.

The club has appointed Mike Hussey of Almacantar as their development partner and have hired architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to draw up plans for the construction of a 55,000 to 60,000 capacity stadium at the iconic site.

Battersea is owned by Real Estate Opportunities (REO), which is part-owned by the developer Treasury Holdings.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly explored moving to Battersea after he took over the club in 2003 but the plan was later shelved. Those plans have now apparently been revived.

Any move is still some time away, however. The former power station is a listed building so as things stand, a new stadium would have to be incorporated into the existing site -- the current building cannot be demolished.

In addition, the club cannot move until it buys back the freehold of its current home, Stamford Bridge.

Last month the club lost a vote over the issue by the Chelsea Pitch Owners -- a group made up mostly of fans who own the freehold and oppose any move.

Despite that, the club is believed to be ramping up its plans in case Battersea ultimately emerges as the most viable relocation option.

A Chelsea spokesman was quoted as saying: "In the past, we've talked to various people with interests in Battersea Power Station, but we haven't had any substantive discussions with anyone regarding that site for several months. However. . . we now think it prudent to look again at the feasibility and potential for the site to be developed for a football stadium.

"We have made no decision to leave Stamford Bridge, and we continue to discuss with the local council any economically viable options to expand the Bridge, but we will continue to investigate various options close to Stamford Bridge."

REO has planning approval to build 3,400 homes, 10 million sq ft of offices and retail space at Battersea. It hopes a cash injection will allow the £5.5bn (€6.4bn) redevelopment to become reality and repay the lenders.

The power station was shut down in 1983 and various attempts to redevelop the site have since failed.

The site has substantial loans from Lloyds and NAMA, owing the bad bank an estimated €350m. REO has acknowledged those loans could be called in at any time.

Irish Independent

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