Wednesday 22 February 2017

Wembley residents rise up against Spurs plans for increased matches and capacity

Traffic flow: Red-not good, Yellow-slow, Green-OK (16.51 Feb 21st)
After a poorly attended and advertised consultation event at Challkhill Community Centre earlier this month, attended by Tottenham Hotspur and the Football Association, it appeared that there would be little opposition to plans to increased the number of major and full capacity events at the Stadium during Spurs' tenure:
 As approved, [planning] condition 3 stated that for two years following completion of the stadium, subject to the completion of specific improvement works to Wembley Park Station and construction of roads known as Estate Access Corridor and Stadium Access Corridor, the number of major sporting events held at the stadium in any one year was restricted to no more than 22 (to exclude European Cup and World Cup events where England/UK is the host nation), and the number of major non-sporting events to 15. After this, additional events over and above this were permitted subject to the number of spectators being limited to the capacity of the lower and middle tiers of the stadium. 

The proposal would allow for up to an additional 31 major sporting Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) events between 1 August 2017 and 31 July 2018. A major event (which may or may not include THFC) would be considered to be an event in the stadium bowl with a capacity in excess of 10,000 people
A glance at the consultation page LINK now shows that opposition is building. Most of the objections centre on the impact on the quality of life of nearby residents of increased number of events and capacity in terms of traffic density and pollution, crowded buses, overground and tube lines - basically a curtailment of residents' freedom to move easily around their own area. A particular concern is congestion between Forty Lane/Wembley Park, Wembley Hill Road and Wembley High Road where traffic often grinds to a halt.   Other concerns are over littering and the alleged anti-social behaviour of Spurs fans.  In answer to the suggestion that 'you have chosen to live near a major international stadium - it goes with the territory' residents respond that they acknowledge the contribution the stadium makes to the vitality of the area, a reasonable amount of disruption is to be expected but that these proposals go too far and breach undertakings previously given.

I sense that there are wider concerns underpinning some of the objections. Residents feel out of control of the development of their locality and, moreover, that when they do express a view they are ignored. Residents are pitted against an alliance of the Football Association, anxious to maximise income to pay off the costs of the new Wembley Stadium, Spurs keen to finance their new stadium, US owned Quintain  wanting to maximise profit from what increasingly looks like speculative and unfettered development and Brent Council wanting to maximise income to make up for the local government cuts imposed by central government.

Brent Council fails to champion the needs and interests of local residents and instead is an ally of the football and developer 'big boys'.  This was not helped recently when Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, took part in Quintain's public relations blitz over the Tivi private rent build at Wembley Park  - ignoring the fact that the apartments are in no way affordable to local people.

How can the Council make balanced decisions on behalf of residents if they are firmly in the arms of Spurs, the FA and Quintain? How can Sadiq Khan make balanced decisions using his call-in powers over major developments?

I publish below just one of the contributions to the consultation site. Consultation closes on March 2nd 2017.

1. There is already substantial disruption to the area surrounding Wembley Stadium caused by the large numbers of people that descend on the area, especially during football matches. It stands to reason that almost doubling the number of events would result in a substantial INCREASE in disruption to the immediate and surrounding areas.

2. When football events are held at Wembley Stadium, fans do not respect the area, local shopkeepers or residents, leaving the area considerably dirty with excessive littering that isn't cleared up for several days following any event.

3. Traffic disruption caused by events is already difficult to bear, both in the immediate Stadium area and in adjacent areas such as Kingsbury, Blackbird Hill, A406, etc. The area and the existing road transport infrastructure just cannot cope with more events. Brent Council has failed to improve this - there's no money left.

4. Public transport is not usable on match days. Trains are packed (i.e. passengers cannot get on trains until matches have started) and fans are often drunk or behave badly (personally witnessed a drunk fan urinating on a Jubilee line platform). Regular users of public transport are shut out by hoards of fans who don't really show any consideration for local residents using public transport regularly. Over 50% of visitors to Wembley Stadium events (higher for football events) use LUL and Mainline Rail services - the existing infrastructure can barely cope on non-event days, let alone on event days.

5. The report states that THFC fans are "generally well behaved with no history of regular fan related violence at home or away over the past 10 years in domestic and European competition." This is simply INCORRECT. See here:
I do not wish to have more events that create opportunities for further bad behaviour, especially for fans that have no affinity for Wembley or consider this their "home" base.

6. Air quality - all air quality monitoring locations are some distance away from the stadium, presumably to skew the results and provide a favourable outcome for THFC. It would be better if some monitoring sites were closer to the stadium.

7. Noise pollution - I simply disagree with the assessment that because the proposed changes are only for a year or so, the increase in overall noise pollution should be borne by residents. This is just silly. More events = more noise. There's no justification for that. The absence of mitigates beyond "continued monitoring" is equivalent to kicking the can down the road when nobody will pay attention. Locals are not stupid so show greater consideration please.

8. The assessment of the effects of the proposed changes (Socio-economics: moderate beneficial; Transport: minor adverse; Air Quality: Not significant; Noise: negligible) and the judgement of their cumulative effects as "no change" is purely subjective. There is simply no empirical evidence carried out by INDEPENDENT assessors to verify these. If you are paying the so-called experts (for the avoidance of doubt, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners is acting on behalf of the applicant), of course they'll give you the answer you want! Turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

Furthermore, the additional creation of c.31k jobs is highly speculative and there is no guarantee that these would be filled by local residents or if there's any local benefit whatsoever. Many of the companies used to provide catering and stewarding services bring in staff from other areas of London/the UK so there's NO BENEFIT whatsoever to the local economy.

9. The benefits of the proposed changes do not pass onto local residents. c.67% of the anticipated additional expenditure would be on travel and transport in getting to/from the stadium. Only 1/3 of the anticipated benefits would likely accrue to the local area, of which Wembley Stadium would stand to gain a large share. I'd be interested to learn more about how the £43.5m and £14.5m figures area arrived at and the assumptions behind them which, interestingly, are nowhere to be found in the report(s) made available.

10. Brent Council should conduct its own in-depth report to verify each and every claim made by the applicant. This should be made available to all Brent residents to read and then make their own minds up.

I would also highly recommend holding a public meeting for residents to ask questions of the applicant and the Council before a decision is made.

Then of course there is the expectaion that Chelsea will follow Tottenham at Wembley - the precedent will have been set.


Anonymous said...

This is madness!

Unknown said...

Please tell me what I can do as a local resident to help prevent this happening. What's the present situation with a week to go?

Anonymous said...

Council's planning site is down. This message appears. IDOX Public Access
Page not found
The requested URL was not found on this server. If you had typed the URL, please check especially the following possibilities:

Perhaps the URL you typed contained lower case letters instead of upper case letters, or vice versa? URLs are case-sensitive, generally speaking.
A space somewhere? A URL must not contain a blank (space) character.
Check whether there are some extra characters at the end of the URL, or perhaps some missing characters.

Martin Francis said...

I have reported the faulty linkto Brent Council who are dealing with it. You can also send comments in by email. The planning number is 17/0368. The main action is to make comments which are checked before going up on the website - this can take up to 48 hours. Later when it comes before the Committee the public can request to speak. It is also worth contacting your local councillors (see side panel) and teling them what you think of the application. So far there are a large number of objections but the heavyweights of the FA, Spurs and Quintain will be speaking in favour.

Anonymous said...

The link is now back up & running.

Alison Hopkins said...

Brent has been having issues with that broken link for ten days off and on. It's working now, but it's because they keep tweaking Acolaid. As Martin, says, you can email objections as well.

Anonymous said...

Make formal comment on the Council website or by email post or handing in in person. Ask your neighbours, friends and family to also comment. All comments made should be considered as part of the planning application. The Council can not consider anything voiced but not formally put forward to them.

Anonymous said...

What's the email address to send comments to?

Unknown said...

About 12 years ago it was mooted that Arsenal FC played their home games at Wembley. The then Labour controlled council, along with the residents, vehemently opposed the suggestion and it was quickly dropped as an option by Arsenal FC.
There was a reason for the cap on events when the FA was granted planning for the new stadium. Due to the massive construction of flats since, plus the Design Outlet, there is even more reason for the cap to be maintained,
Since the FA vastly over spent building the stadium they have been looking for ways to maximise income, which is why we now have American football and their support for Tottenham FC to use it as their home for a year.
Also the ludicrous closer of the large one way roundabout at the junction of Empire Way and Wembley Hill Road for the Olympics has not only caused daily grid lock morning, evening and at weekends but has caused drivers on event days leaving to be funnelled up Wembley Hill Road away from the stadium in a direction they don't want to go.

So the question to be asked is what has changed in the intervening years that another Labour controlled council seems not only to approve but is encouraging this weekly increase in events.
Meanwhile the Russian owner of Chelsea is keenly watching to see if a precedent has been set so he too can apply but unlike Tottenham, Chelsea will want it for two or three years to run concurrently with Tottenham's.
That would mean an event EVERY weekend for 10 months of the year, plus mid week games, plus cup games, plus European games

True the stadium was at Wembley well before many of the residents bought property here. But Wembley was only used for the FA Cup Final, International games and the occasional concert. I like many residents never envisaged a time when the stadium would be used on a weekly basis

Unknown said...

Martin Francis is right in his assessment of wider concerns from residents around Wembley. The big concern is about the non stop drive by Labour Councillors for more massive tower blocks around the Stadium and beyond (two 20+ storey tower blocks in site of Chesterfield House in Park Lane) for example without any investment in improving the local road system. The road system cannot cope with the area around The Triangle, Park Lane and Wembley High Road clogged up most of the time.

The new Wembley Stadium 'cap' on events was only temporary (there was NO cap for the old stadium) until the Council carried out transport link improvements on the Wembley Industrial Estate. This work has never been carried out by the Council and this seems the only reason why the temporary cap is still in place.

If the Council is incapable of carrying out transport improvements relating the the Stadium built over 10 years ago it is not surprising that local residents have lost confidence in a Labour Council pushing for many more massive tower blocks while having no plans on his to effectively improve local roads. As always it is of course the existing residents of Wembley whose needs are being ignored and who will suffer the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Wembley Stadium only has a PTAL rating of 3 out of 6 for accessibility by public transport!

Unknown said...

Only 3/10, that is a surprise. They told us it was part of the planning that they envisaged the majority of fans would use public transport to access the new stadium by deliberately restricting parking.
And yet I know someone who has a 10 year ticket in the Bobby Moore Suite who is provided with a parking place outside the stadium for events in spite of living across the road in Salmon Street.

Anonymous said...

Do the stadium/football teams pay towards policing and rubbish clearance. The amount should be increased if the
Wembley wide street drinking ban is to be enforced. Also, has anyone actually witnessed enforcement of this?? Otherwise, where's all the ££ going to if not to enforce?!!

Anonymous said...

The link to down again as off this morning (28th Feb), I also noticed last night when the link was still working that all people including myself who lodged down 'Objects' as our preferred option to the scheme now all went onto 'Neutral' status for the scheme. I am beginning to suspect that the Council who I'm certain is in favour of this scheme is deliberately screwing up the website now that they are seeing that the people who object to this scheme are starting to come out in large numbers. Shame on you Brent Council if you are doing something deliberate to sabotage this link!!

Martin Francis said...

I have seen them enforcing the buying alcohol ban on the small shops on Bridge Rd. Shopkeepers are quite annoyed by this as Asda round the corner doesn't have a ban. I have seen the street drinking ban enforced by police confiscating drink at the bottom of the steps from Bridge Road to Olympic Way but that isn't the area that most concerns residents.

Martin Francis said...

When I spoke to an officer a couple of years ago asking why they weren't enforcing the ban he gestured towards the crowds and said 'Would you try and enforce it? The Council can pass a law but we have to choose when it is practical' He may have said 'appropriate' rather than 'practical' but it is clear they choose whether to enforce the ban.

Sandro said...

I wrote the above message earlier on. The site is up again however I have emailed the Council asking that they immediately change back our statuses from 'Neutral' to 'Objects' as the vast majority of residents who posted comments in the link put 'Objects'! Dear Martin...if you have a quicker contact to go through to the Council to request this then please could you be so kind as to do so. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wembley Stadium say in their report that the Council had 10yrs+ to improve the road infrastructure using the s106 monies given to them! Why haven't Brent Council done the works?

Anonymous said...

Martin - what's the best email address?