Brentford Football Club (BFC): Lionel Road Liaison Group Meeting
Notes of the meeting held in the Bee Hive, Griffin Park at 7pm 22 April 2013
Attendees: Denis Browne (DB, Brentford Community Council), Bela Cunha (BC), Hilary Smith (HS, Kew Bridge Apartments), Nicky Gupta (NG, Westerly Ware Association (Kew)), Andrew Ross (AR, Strand on the Green), John Burgess (JB, BCC), John Ormsby (JO, WLRG), Dorothy Boland (DB,SOGA), Derek Collett (DC, Brentford Community Council), Martin Taylor (MT, Kew Society), Kath Richardson (KR, Brentford Chamber of Commerce), Philip Marchant (PM, BIAS), Marie Rabouhans (MR, West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society), Adrian Coxon (AC, FOSH), Michael Simson (MS, Friends of Stile Hall), Oliver Pearcey (OP, Kew Bridge Steam Museum), Andrew Dakers (AD, spark!), Robert Colvill (RC, SOGA)
Project team: Brian Burgess (BB, Brentford Football Club), Chris Gammon (CG, Brentford Football Club), Steve Lancashire, Chair (SL, Four Communications), Patrick Kinsella (PK, Four Communications), Dave Hughes (DH, David Hughes Architects), Joe Ellis (JE, WSP), Ben Sykes (BS, Faulkner Browns).
1.0 Welcome and Apologies
1.1 Steve welcomed Nicky Gupta from Westerly Ware Association (Kew) and Andrew Ross from Strand on the Green to their first meeting.
1.2 SL asked the group how they would like the notes of the minutes to be recorded in future. It was agreed that they would remain in note form and people were encouraged indicate where they wanted a point they made noted. Also, he asked them to hold comments and detailed questions until after each presentation and only ask for clarification during the presentation.
1.3 Apologies were received from Cllr Mel Collins and Martin Tewkesbury
2 .0 Notes of 18 March 2013 meeting
2.1 SL explained revisions had been made by DB, BCC and JO which had been incorporated and JO and DB had accepted these. They would be re-circulated to the group.
3.0 Matters arising
3.1 There were no matters arising.
4.0 Project update
4.1 BB gave a quick update of the overall situation. He informed the group of developments since the last meeting.
• There had been a project board meeting, where a great deal of the community feedback was relayed to the board. The Club looked at the financial viability of the site and has decided to take some the height off and adjust the massing. The scheme is already in deficit but the club is willing to underwrite this as far as possible in order to respond to the views of the local community. He explained that while they cannot take out lots of storeys they have decided to take out some mass at critical points so they improve the views at the key places.
• BB informed the group that BS would show them how the enabling developments will now look with the height taken out – although not all of the architectural finishes had been applied as this is work in progress. BB then updated the group on the timetable for the development. The intention is to get the planning application in for the middle of May but because of the revisions the Club are making based on the feedback from various consultation activities this might be put back. The next exhibition, planned for the end of May, will be in Chiswick, hopefully at the Fountains Leisure Centre if it can be secured. He went on to inform the group that the Club would be more than happy to have another LRLG in May if it is still wanted.
• MR asked whether the application, before it is validated will need to include the Environmental Impact Assessment. BB confirmed this and informed the group that this is being worked on now.
• DB asked whether the Club will make the application publically available to view. SL informed the group Christina Naulls from Planning Perspectives had spoken to the Council who confirmed they will be placing the application in two libraries to be viewed without appointment.
5.0 Design Code.
5.1 BS introduced the item and the following points were made and discussed
• BS informed the group that he would be primarily talking about the design code. The design code basically explains how the masterplan might be implemented. Along with the design code is the access statement, which provides the context for the code. BS explained that once lodged the full application will be able to be downloaded to be viewed and will contain the full design code.
• He will be showing lots of views, which particularly illustrate how the views have changed.
• The main central site is within the railway lines and has specific access points. It is interesting in the sense that it sits between Thames and Kew – it is an exciting regeneration project.
• • BS: Architectural character defined east west on M4 (high and industrial) rather than down to river.
• • MR asked how do you define area as seems to be carefully selected [high buildings?]
• • Stadium front at angle on two sides, visible from High Street and KB station
• BS explained the existing character of the sites in the immediate context and then showed the outer areas. It is in these latter areas that the conservation areas and world heritage sites sit. The site is very challenging because it is hemmed in by these sensitive areas.
• BS then outlined the current uses of the site. There is a builder’s yard and waste transfer centre. Gunnersbury Park is to the north of the site.
• The current access is challenging; it is a 120 degrees tight turn to Lionel Road South. The link out of the top is under the M4, operationally this works but the environment is very challenging.
• A well connected public realm is proposed but BS accepted it is a dense scheme.
• The design code outlines how the scheme is structured.
• There are difficult aspects of the site: for example, railway lines the whole way around.
• The visibility of the stadium will be over the parapet of Kew Bridge Road and past the Steam Museum.
• In spite of the financial restraints on the scheme, the natural and environmental aspects of the scheme have been at the forefront of design considerations. In particular the levels created for the parking and foot prints, are, as far as possible, consistent with the existing area.
• There is a lot of parking under the podia – this is part of the key principle of the masterplan to ensure that all the spaces and places connect to the public realm. The parking will be a ratio of 0.6 spaces to each residential unit.
5.2 Comments from the floor
• DB asked whether the Club have acquired the adjoining sites. BB explained the Club are currently in negotiations with the owners of both of them. He indicated it is more of a joint venture on the Duffy site
• DB then asked if the sites will be acquired by the time a planning application is lodged.
• CG said the Club are in detailed negations, but it is impossible to say whether the Club will have legally secured the sites. They will not have the Duffy site but feel comfortable enough in the relationship to form a deal with them that will form part of the ultimate application.
• MR what if the application is approved on the basis that these negotiations are going to be successful. What will happen if they aren’t? BB said Arsenal and Tottenham both had to get planning consent without owning all the land. It is not ideal but not unusual.
• BB said in order to reduce the height and intensity of the scheme it was decided to look into the possibility of acquiring adjacent sites.
5.3 Presentation resumes
• BS outlined the heights (Above Ordnance Datum – AOD) of other buildings in the local area: Vantage West is 62m, Green Dragon Lane is 72m and Rivers House is 37m. The massing tried in the first round was between 66m and 59m – the absolute height has been taken in order to be below Vantage West and the Steam Museum water tower.
• The profile of the building on the Southside has been altered so, instead of being a wedge form, it is articulated at two points and is similar in scale to Rivers House. We have also been pushing very hard to get the Capital Court development down, been tweaking to get it down and get more height down.
• BS explained how taking off the height will impact
• BS informed the group that heritage societies have been consulted.
5.5 Comments from the floor
• DB asked if the number of residential units had been reduced from 980. BB informed the group the number had been reduced to a maximum of 910.
• DB asked whether St James’s phase three has been left out. BS responded and said what is assessed is the cumulative effect; it is hidden behind the garage.
• OP asked whether the images were right. He said the St James’ scheme looks significantly larger than it actually feels. You need the view from the new public area – the Council have put a lot of emphasis on that, especially the local conservation officer. He also asked whether the heritage consultants will contact him and why he hadn’t been consulted earlier as Kew had. BS agreed to meet with him.
• MR said the enabling development is a horrifying enough but the stadium looks totally out of place. BB said, as he had explained at the beginning, the images of the stadium are not architecturally finished because it is still in the draft stage.
• MS said the stadium is just a blank metallic surface and also described the enabling development as a horror.
• MR asked how tight the envelope will be with regards to height and massing .
• BS informed the group that we will be working to put a truer architecture rendering.
• MS commented on the amount of work being done to alter views but there will only be an outline in the design code. When it is sold, the developer will come along and redesign it.BS agreed but explained this could only be within the envelope –the design code would prevent developers operating outside of this, forcing them to follow the strict framework being developed by the Club based on these discussions.
• DB said the Group feel overwhelmed by the enabling developments and there is a feeling the stadium is an enclosed box, which is exciting when inside but external quality is not helpful and is very bland and this at a time when we have seen Olympic stadium. This is influencing stadium design, but the stadium is dull.
• BB said the Group will be able to see the stadium at the next meeting. The Club is not enclosing the corners completely –in two of the corners it will remain relatively open.
5.6 Presentation resumes
• The Kew Bridge views show the reduction in height (by two storeys) and the rear has also been taken down and instead of a wedge the design is more responsive to the key views. The Strand on the Green view also shows the height has been reduced in two places – although this wasn’t as clear because the architectural rendering had not been completed. In this view the view of the scheme has almost disappeared.
5.7 Comments on views from the floor
• MR said that despite the changes it is still horrendous. The scheme is more in your face than Vantage West, instead of looking across an open river vista, you will see thisvast scheme.
• OP felt it was difficult to justify the scheme. He noted the St George’s scheme is 7 storeys, the Barrett scheme is 7-8. He felt it difficult to justify the heights being proposed that close to the river. It is driven by the need to generate income. He felt the Club is jamming in development to pay for a stadium.
• Comment: more views from the north side don’t need to be done as no one is bothered because it is industrial. A residential development is being proposed and the primary heights should also take into account the residential area (south of the river) – it is an architecturally sensitive landscape. The southern points of the development should reflect the architecture in this area and not the north. You must make the south the key area.
• BS explained that in pure planning terms the immediate site is the site in question. Then it is necessary to work outwards, which is why he included the south area as referred to by the group. The south is the wider context whereas the immediate is the site itself. This is how planners look at it.
• MR asked whether the Club has thought of taking a photo from Turnham Green – the BSI (Chiswick tower) is very visible and very out of keeping in Turnham Green. She wondered if these might been seen from there also.
• RC: The impact is to the south of the development – the residential area. That is where it is visible above the skyline.
• RC said the view from Kew Bridge is taken where the rise of the Bridge masks the scale. A much closer view looking towards Kew Bridge station is needed.
5.8 Presentation resumes
• BS displayed an extensive number of visual impact slides. They showed the reduction of the enabling sites in response to the feedback received from the local residents.
• BS then displayed the outline of the public open space proposals.
• BS showed a graph which indicated the proportion of the sites by each development. The stadium is the largest, peripheral space makes up 4 per cent, and public realm accounts for 9 per cent.
• BS reiterated the bold position the Club have taken with the design envelopes – he explained future developers cannot go out or go higher.
• BS explained the cycle route to the south and to the north from the stadium and that there will also be 400 cycle spaces for the stadium and 900 cycle spaces for residents.
• Comment: One cycle lane only seems to go half way up the road?
• BS acknowledged this is an intense development; in the middle is the community stadium, which provides a lot of character to this site. The stadium is coming forward with muted tones and greys and charcoals. The developers will be prompted towards an estate colour path so there aren’t conflicting designs.
• BS explained the design codes would establish frameworks (constraints) for land use, pedestrian routes, emergency access, servicing, residential access, cycling routes, balcony treatments, colours, trees and planting.
5.9 SL then invited questions from the floor.
• DB asked how much can be enforced on developers?
• BS explained that the vendor of the site has enforcement through the sale. The planning authority is the ultimate arbiter and will use the design code and statement when deciding on future detailed applications.
• OP asked how many of the design codes will be mandatory?
• BB said unlike a developer the Club intends to stick around for another 100 years so it is in the interests of the Club to ensure the developers stick to the design code because the Club is committed to being a good neighbour in this community over the long term.
• MS didn’t think the Club will be in the position to enforce very much. There could be 6 different developers and there will be no coherence. If there was one overarching management it might make sense.
• BS explained that ultimately the process depends upon the policing of the planning authority through the reserved matters process. BB said this is why the sites may be sold as leaseholds so that the Club has some control over the freehold but this matter has not been formally decided by the Board.
• DB informed the Group that if someone develops an estate and the individual buildings are made available the landlord can say “we want to approve every design” before the planning authority and thought the Club should take that approach. DB felt that a consultant from the team advises the planning authority on every scheme brought forward. BB explained the Council are clear they want high quality design on these sites.
• BB thanked DB for his advice and informed the Group discussions with the Council are ongoing and he will take these comments on board. BS said he has worked within that framework before and will discuss it with Brian.
• AR was very encouraged to hear that the club is looking to retain the freehold.
• MR said you could have a colour pallet that respected the riverside and the surrounding area. Red and black are great for football but are not sensitive to the area
• AR asked about the Edwardian brick building at the entrance to the current station. BS explained no buildings next to the station are going.]
• MS felt what was coming through in these meetings is that the Club is trying to put a huge amount of development onto quite a small site. This is recognised by buying adjacent sites and the term used is very intense. He wanted to know what has been done in terms of modelling a smaller stadium and the impact on that.
• BB said if the Club wins on Saturday they will be in Championship – we want a stadium to be viable in the Championship, the average crowd there is about 17k in the longer term. It is not thought viable for the Club in its business plan to cater for less than 20k. At the moment, we are only filling the stadium twice each season. The average attendance is 6k. It will take time to build support up to 20k. In terms of smaller stadium, in the short term it is ok but in the medium term it is just not viable.
• JB asked if the stadium could be expanded if the Club made it to the Premiership.CG explained the only way the stadium can be extended is over the railway line, building the north stand further back, taking it up to 25k. But for this to work Premiership money would be needed as it would be very expensive.
• MS: Would it not be more viable financially to only have a 15000 seater stadium and then expand if demand arises? BB said this is being looked into that but the cost of building in phases and later is much higher than building it all initially. You don’t save 25% of cost, you save less than 10%. Additionally, at the moment, constructors are hungry for work. If the Club can go out soon enough – it will be more cost effective to build the external envelope now as Brighton have done.
• MR said the Club have a responsibility to explore every possible financial source because of scale of the enabling development. There are other massive projects that find other ways of funding it by crowd sourcing etc. She had not heard anything to suggest anything of that. The Club has based their plan on “we need x amount and that is x units” and are looking how to squash them into this small site.
• BB informed the group there has been an awful lot of work on this, the Club has explored all sorts of ways it can to pay for this site and has spent a great deal financially.
• JB asked if there would be a joint venture with Wasps? CG explained that there will be a deal with a rugby club – there is more interest because the project is further forward.
• OP asked about the impact of floodlighting and pointed out there would be a microclimate effect in the stadium. BS explained this would be picked up in the Environmental Statement.
6.1 BB introduced JE from WSP who outlined the transport issues, particularly explaining what would happen on match days with the Club working with local authorities such as the Metropolitan Police, the transport operators and the Council. JE made the following points:
• Having 20k supporters at a game temporarily changes the transport environment fundamentally, 900 residential units will also change things. The difference is the latter is every day and the former every fortnight. It was acknowledged that there would be some midweek games to cover cup replays and postponed matches.
• Brentford is a local club with the vast majority of fans travelling locally and, despite perceptions, public transport in London is very good, especially compared to outside London.
• If the match day arrangements aren’t safe, then the stadium will not get a licence, the police will just stop it. Developers build houses and go but a football stadium is here for the long term so it is in their best interests to develop a coherent transport strategy.
• If planning permission was granted there will be a Community Liaison Group for transport which would involve local residents and be ongoing.
• JE showed plans where the Club want to widen the footway and place a pedestrian footway.
• JE then explained the various plans which are a requirement of the stadium: A Stadium Management Plan, Event Management Plan, Travel Plan, Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) and Monitoring Programme. These are all operated by the Football Club. The Operations Plan is run by the police. The plan in which local groups can have more say is the LAMP. LAMP address problems happening immediately, it is flexible, as it has to work correctly and it can be adjusted over time to cater for actual circumstances.
• A transport strategy has to be done for 100 years but this is impossible. So one is done each year which adjusts the initial one based on a range of specific factors like conditions in the surrounding area, the visiting team. This will be from the third season onwards to give the Club time to assess the position adequately.
• Noise is the key anti social behaviour still connected with football. After a while it becomes clear where it happens. Once the places are determined the Club and police will be able to place more staff in these areas.
• Kew Bridge Station: The idea is that there will be a ramp and it will be marshalled and controlled by the Club – TfL want the Club to manage it. The Club can manage the queues on the site, at other grounds it is managed by the police. But here it will be managed internally – there will be a queue, when the trains come and leave people will be allowed on to the platforms. Rather than have the platforms at capacity we would leave enough capacity to allow people to get off the trains.
• The train companies are not currently saying they will put on more train journeys. However, this often changes once they see how many people are using the services. They will sometimes add more carriages.
• Matches will change things – there will be an inconvenience, which is once a fortnight at weekends and on some weeknights , but the Club will manage it to reduce it as much as possible.
• Gunnersbury Station: It is obviously different because it is an underground as well as an overground station. The barriers will remain open before and after the matches to help control the flow of people and again like Kew Bridge Station, this will be very carefully managed outside the station entrance.
• Unlike Kew Bridge Station, Gunnersbury Station will be managed at the station. It will take spectators about 12 minutes to get to the station. Once they get to the station there will be a queue. WSP have done some static modelling; the idea is to run it like Finsbury Park at Arsenal. It is possible to queue them all the way down the road but they are likely to queue at the access line. It will be managed safely and efficiently. If it means there is a queue down Chiswick Road and it takes longer for the fans to get to the station then there will be stewards who will manage the process.
6.2 Comments and questions from the floor.
• MT: Can you tell me what the LAMP determines?
• JE: the liaison group will be decided by the local group. There isn’t a defined area because it is always changing and it would not be right to place any definition on it now.
• RC commented that Kew Bridge is very inadequate: The Bridge over the platforms is dire, the platform heights are terrible, there is no disabled access. What is going to change in the station?
• JE: The train operator is not seeking improvements from the club. If they consider it to be unsafe the train operator will then design an improvement and implementation plan based on their concerns. The height problem on the platforms is a problem for Network Rail.
• DB: Can you please talk with Network Rail who are often too slow to act on these things?
• JE explained the Club cannot force the change as it would cost too much.
• DB: how are people going to get from the tunnel to the west platform? How are people who aren’t supporters going to get over the bridge?
• JE explained the bridge and the stairs would be controlled. People would miss one train at most.
• BB said the bridge will be kept completely clear until a batch of spectators are allowed through and up onto the footpath. They will be stopped at the tunnel. A family, coming in at the normal entrance will only have to wait while the batch is allowed through.
• It was agreed this sounded manageable, as long as it is correctly managed.
• MR said that at Gunnersbury there are two combined platforms (for the east and the west) but only one single staircase. When the Business Park employees leave work, if you are a resident you cannot get down the stairs. The trains are not very frequent, if you wait five minutes then get down and miss a train, you have to wait another 20 minutes. The staircase is a major problem, especially in the event of an evening match, when you will get business park employees and football supporters. Now the staircase handrail has been removed it is very dangerous. How will you manage the staircase?
• JE explained the Club has already spoken to TfL. If they felt it wasn’t safe or workable then the Club simply would not be allowed to do it. The plans have to be safe; it is being designed with safety at the forefront. JE explained it will inconvenience people for a short period, but he assured the Group it will be safe.
• OP said the logical way between Gunnersbury and Chiswick is to use the back streets, and this avoids taking everyone by the junction at the north circular and the M4. How are you going to manage that movement?
• JE said he would choose to walk via Chiswick roundabout, and the Club would suggest stewards there. There would also be police and stewards at the roundabout and there will be a lot of police and stewards along the way.
• AR: do you have a predicted flow for away matches?
• JE said generally Clubs don’t have one until they know which clubs are visiting,as otherwise it is not possible to know where the fans will be coming from. BB added that there has to be a degree of flexibility so it is managed with what actually happening.
• MT: can we put the council under pressure for a controlled parking zone?
• JE said yes and explained a one hour parking ban is fine. At Swansea for example they have signs which don’t allow parking for more than 90 minutes during match days, this prevents fans from parking in the surrounding streets.
7.1 SL informed the group that the aim is to have a further exhibition near the time the application goes into the Council. SL made the point that this is not to say that the Club will stop its dialogue with groups, the Club is anxious to keep this going.
7.2 He proposed the two exhibition dates, to be held at Fountain Leisure Centre, as 31st May 2.30pm – 6.30pm and 1st June 10.30am – 1.30pm. This was agreed.
7.3 It was agreed to get the presentations on to the website by the end of the week.
8 Date of the next meeting
8.1 There was a strong feeling from the Group that it was important to meet again soon and it was agreed the next meeting would be Monday 29 April 2013, 7 – 9pm. There would be a brief presentation and discussion of the stadium design and the main item would be the letter sent by Robert Colville on behalf of a number of groups which had been circulated to the Group.