In response to a recent article in the Hammersmith & Fulham Chronicle where the Friends of Bishops' Park outlined some of their objections to the redevelopment of the Riverside Stand of Craven Cottage, the Fulham Supporters' Trust today submitted the following letter to the newspaper for publication:
The Fulham Supporters' Trust were disappointed to learn of the Friends of Bishop's Park's objections to Fulham Football Club's planning application to redevelop Craven Cottage (Bishop's Park group raises concerns over Fulham FC stadium plans, Chronicle, 17 February 2012) and wishes to respond to some of the points raised.
Previously, Fulham Football Club currently was granted planning permission to increase the capacity of Craven Cottage, their historic home, and this would have necessitated the demolition and rebuilding of not only the Riverside Stand, but also the Putney and Hammersmith Ends of the ground. After extensive consultation with supporters and local residents, the present proposals, currently under consideration by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, have limited the redevelopment to just the Riverside Stand, with this approach endorsed by 89 per cent of respondents to a consultation. The Friends of Bishop's Park neglect to mention that the increase in the height of the stand would be screened by the Johnny Haynes Stand and the floodlights would be removed, thus eliminating any excess light pollution.
The proposals to extend the riverside walk behind the Riverside Stand - a level of public access which is not present at the moment - have been received enthusiastically by local residents. When considering previous applications to expand Craven Cottage, the Council has recognised that “a riverside walk is a long standing aspiration and would be of significant public benefit”. Objections to public restrictions to its use on a match day ignore the fact, at present, that access to public footpaths and roads is far more severely curtailed at all of London's other Premier League grounds. The closing of the gates on a match day is designed to ensure the safety of spectators and members of the public alike and the proposals will alleviate existing congestion, both before and after games.
The encroachment onto the River Thames is necessary to provide the walkway, but the Environmental Impact Assessment stresses that any building into the river will not have an impact on flood capacity, but will minimise any adverse impact on wildlife and support the biodiversity of the river. The Friends of Bishop Park also object to the operation of two cafés, conveniently ignoring the success of the Johnny Haynes café on Stevenage Road and the additional opportunities and views of the river that the new cafés would provide.
The Fulham Supporters' Trust believes that these proposals offer significant benefits to the local community and economy as well as having clear planning merit. We endorse wholeheartedly the plans and hope that Hammersmith & Fulham Council look upon them favourably.
Fulham Supporters' Trust
The Trust also submitted a reponse to an Evening Standard piece about the impact the Riverside Stand development would have on a local sailing club, but the Standard chose not to print our letter.