In the early part of December, Fulham Football Club held another series of consultation events regarding their proposals to redevelop Craven Cottage. Club officials and members of the planning consultancy involved with the designs were present as the club unveiled some detailed designs of the proposed changes to the Riverside Stand, which will predominantly introduce additional seating and offer extra opportunities for non-matchday use of the new facilities. One of the salient features was the desire to re-open the Thames Path to its fullest extent. It remains Fulham's intention to submit a planning application this spring, with the expectation that work will be undertaken during the close season.
Since last month, there has been some progress with Fulham Football Club’s plans to redevelop Craven Cottage. According to a statement published on the Club's website on November 16th., Fulham submitted an EIA to Hammersmith & Fulham Council regarding their proposals. It is important to note that this is not a planning application, but a minor part of the planning process designed to assess the impact of any future proposal.
The environmental impact assessment included a description of the project, in this case a discussion of the measures that would need to be taken to redevelop the Riverside Stand, any alternative approaches that were considered, a description of the current environment, consideration of any impact on the environment and its possible off-setting, a section advising on any weakness in knowledge and a summary of the proposals.
To this end, the Club included some drawings and technical sketches outlining the current environment behind the Riverside Stand and along the Thames. The sketches showing the height of a redeveloped Riverside Stand were not indicative of its final appearance, but merely provided an understanding of the environmental impact. Detailed proposals will emerge in due course as the planning application takes shape. Fulham have indicated that they will hold consultations with their supporters and the local community in December and they hope to submit a planning application next year. The proposals involve the redevelopment and expansion of the current Riverside Stand to increase the overall capacity of the Craven Cottage football ground by approximately 4,000 seats. The scheme also includes new food and drink and service facilities for supporters and corporate hospitality space and up to six residential apartments.
In order to reduce any encroachment into the River Thames, the plan also highlighted the proposed over-hang of the two-tier stand over the river with the creation of a new riverside walkway. To assist in the delivery of materials required to construct the new stand, an area has been identified for the creation of a temporary jetty, required for the duration of the construction works only and to facilitate deliveries by water.
Further to the initial announcement, the Trust was pleased to attend the 'open days' held at Craven Cottage in late October. As the Trust grew from the 'Back to the Cottage' movement, we are delighted that the club are actively considering proposals to make a permanent stay at our historic home a reality. We would welcome any feedback from members on the club's proposals. Although the exhibition's displays were well illustrated with plenty of photographs and a drawing of the current structure of the ground, those hoping for detailed plans of what a redeveloped Riverside Stand would look like would have been disappointed.
According to club officials, the open days were held to facilitate feedback from supporters as to what they would prioritise in an enlarged Riverside Stand, with the starting point of increasing the capacity to the stated 30,000 and an upgrading of the existing facilities. Each attendee was given a questionnaire which asked for their comments and ideas.
The club presented both the positives and the negatives of the proposed expansion: stating that the increased capacity would bring additional revenue from increased attendance, but may also necessitate expansion into the River Thames. A very rough sketch of potential riverside frontage was available and, after discussion with representatives from the club, it was clear that the redevelopment could be completed during the close season and avoiding the closure of the stand for any prolonged period.
Crucial to the plans was the re-opening of the Thames path for use on non match days, which featured in the club's last set of redevelopment proposals back in 2007. It would appear likely that an increased number of supporters attending the ground would place greater pressure on current facilities for egress onto Stevenage Road and could result in concomitant damage to the banks of Fielder's Meadow at the Putney End. As well as the obvious fire and safety issues presented by larger attendances, it is both rational and practical to augment and improve egress from the ground at both ends.
With reference to the Putney End, a combined programme of re-opening the Thames Path - and bringing it the same level as that of the Riverside Stand, with appropriate modification for wheelchair and disabled access, the creation of a 'spillway' to avoid any serious damage to Bishop's Park and major improvements to the 'Putney Wall,' which is non-uniform in construction and would require additional support, and appropriate horticultural development in the surrounding areas would present the Club with an opportunity to follow through on their previous offer to support much-needed improvements in Bishop's Park as well as simultaneously fulfilling their own desire for much-needed expansion.
The Trust notes that, in their recent statement on the future of Chelsea Football Club in the borough, Hammersmith and Fulham Council said: "We are currently assisting Fulham FC with its plans to expand the capacity of its historic ground at Craven Cottage and we have already agreed to grant planning permission for additional capacity. A new scheme is about to be consulted on."
The Council's support is welcome and will be crucial to ensuring that these proposals are not mired in the wrangling with local residents that has hindered the Club's previous attempts to expand Craven Cottage. The Trust will be working with all relevant bodies to ensure that the permanent expansion of Craven Cottage is a success. Trust members are encouraged to view the Club's presentation of the plans on the Fulham website at: http://www.fulhamfc.com/StadiumProject/FulhamForever.aspx
Fulham Supporters' Trust welcomes today's announcement that Fulham Football Club are looking to stay at Craven Cottage by increasing the ground's capacity to 30,000 seats.
We encourage all Fulham fans to take part in the consultation process, either by attending the consultation days at the Cottage between Wednesday 19 October and Saturday 22 October and/or completing the questionnaire on the club's website.
Fulham Supporters' Trust, who, as Back to the Cottage, led the campaign to return Fulham to their historic home, look forward to supporting the club's plans to secure their long-term at Craven Cottage.
The Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) is conducting an investigation into events outside Craven Cottage, prior to the international friendly match between Ghana and Brazil on Monday, 5th. September, 2011. Many independent eye-witness account have stated that the means for collection/distribution of pre-paid tickets was highly unsatisfactory, resulting in chaotic, potentially dangerous, scenes on Stevenage Road and adjacent streets. The delay in gaining entry meant that many fans missed a large part of the game or simply abandoned their quest. Dismissive responses from the Club to written complaints appear to have inflamed feelings yet further.
For further comment and reaction from those who were there, please see: