At a press conference at Griffin Park this afternoon (6 November 2002), Bees United Chairman John McGlashan announced plans for a new stadium for Brentford FC at Lionel Road South. The stadium will be located at the site of the eastern terminus of a proposed monorail scheme, linking a park and ride carpark at Western International Markets, near Junction 3 of the M4, with the Piccadilly line at Osterley and the rail service into London Waterloo at Kew Bridge.
The press conference was given jointly by Bees United, their partners, Ambersham Group and Millhouse Group, and Hounslow Council, represented by the Leader, John Chatt and ABeeC member for Brentford ward, Luke Kirton. The stadium will have a capacity of 23-25,000 and form part of a leisure complex that will attract visitors (and monorail passengers) at weekends and in the evenings. During the week the monorail will attract passengers from the extremely busy West London roads.
Left to right: Cllr John Chatt, Cllr Luke Kirton, John McGlashan, Richard Savin, Doug White (picture courtesy Brentford FC).
The monorail system sounds futuristic, but similar systems exist around the world, especially in Japan, and the oldest – in Germany – is over 100 years old. Ambersham Group is the UK representative of the suppliers of the modular system for building the monorail. Millhouse Group is a land development company which is working with Ambersham on a monorail system for Portsmouth as well as the plans for West London. The Chairman of Millhouse Group, Doug White, is a life-long Bees fan. Amberhsam and Millhouse believe that the monorail scheme can be 100% privately financed and Hounslow Council strongly welcomed such a transport develoment that would not require public funding.
The picture below is an artists impression of the stadium, showing the monorail terminal but none of the possible complementary and enabling developments.
The project is still at an early stage and it is not possible to predict the final outcome. The ideal situation is that the first obstacle can be overcome and the land at Lionel Road will be "gifted", reducing the total cost of the project by several millions of pounds. This will also remove the need for the costly and time consuming business of issuing Compulsory Purchase Orders in the future. The situation at the moment is that the land was offered for sale by public tender, and an offer has been accepted. The SRA feel they are duty bound to proceed with the sale, but with the possibility of a CPO on the site they are probably duty bound to inform the buyer, who may reconsider or withdraw his offer.
The scheme goes a long way towards the club meeting all of the restrictive planning conditions on Griffin Park that Ron Noades highlighted in the programme on Saturday 2 November 2002. The first of course is the stipulation that a new site has to be found. Secondly, the UDP which designates the pitch as "green space" would no longer be such a big issue as "brand new" green space will be created at Lionel Road, allowing for at least some development of the Griffin Park pitch. Lastly, the condition of 50% affordable housing can be negotiated, as the whole of the net sale value of Griffin Park will be invested in the new stadium, which is being designed to benefit the whole community and not just the football club.
If we are successful in securing the land and favourable relaxation of the Griffin Park planning conditions, the amount of money Brentford will have available to invest in the stadium project (which is completely separate from the monorail scheme) would make Brentford the major player in any partnership.
Bees United have also met Railtrack, and believe they will consider supporting a fast rail service into Waterloo, as well as building a new station on the North London Line side of the railway junction to provide a direct service to Stratford, where the line will link directly with Eurostar.
Whatever is finally agreed, Brentford would benefit from the facilities within the stadium itself, which will encompass all the amenities the club lacks at present, such as function rooms for business and private use, as well as bars, restaurants, corporate boxes, and parking facilities. These can all be available seven days a week, generating significant income for the club on a daily basis, particularly if the stadium is used more than once a fortnight. Regular events at a new stadium will mean the club can expand its retail opportunities for merchandise, in an area which will have significant amounts of foot traffic passing between the rail and monorail stations at all times during the day.
Additional development of the site will provide funding for the stadium, but it is unlikely the club will benefit from any income generated. However, our objective was to identify a site where Brentford FC could enjoy the advantages of the kinds of facilities it requires to generate additional income streams.
The potential for monorail is obvious, but the consortium of Ambersham, Bees United, and Millhouse are focusing purely on a complementary scheme where monorail benefits from a stadium complex at the Brentford terminal, and the stadium complex benefits from the problems of access to a site which has little potential for any other kind of major development.
The Brentford terminal of monorail is the major area of interest, but the other end is deserving of some examination. The land adjacent to Western International Market can house a substantial amount of car parking space, and being located alongside Junction 3 of the M4 its use as a park-and-ride facility can ease some of the growing traffic problems the area is likely to face in the next few years. With an extension to Hayes & Harlington Station, the monorail provides an easy link from north of the airport to South West London without the need for travelling into Paddington. It also gives car users a choice of rail routes into London after leaving the M4 and parking at WIM. There are a number of intermediate stations planned along the route to Brentford, including an interchange with the Piccadilly Line at Osterley.