Wednesday 16 May 2018

Has the £17.8m stadium steps question already been answered by the Brent Cabinet?

Brent Council today rather belatedly published the Officer's report for Cabinet LINK on the review of the decision to spend £17.8m of CIL money on Olympic Way improvements with the majority of the money going to replace the current Wembley Stadium pedway with steps.

The Olympic Way improvements are divided into 3 zones: Zone A is the area between Fulton Road and the foot of the pedway. Zone B is from Wembley Park station to the norther edge of Fulton Road. Zone C is the pedway replacement and public works from the foot of the pedway to the stadium.

The report recommends that Cabinet members:
2.1  Re-examine the funding decision for Olympic Way improvements in the light of the possible change in ownership of Wembley Stadium and confirm that funding from Quintain and the Stadium owners forms a three way funding stream for Zone C.
·      2.2  Confirm or otherwise the contribution of up to £12.1 million +VAT towards Zone C improvements, such contribution being contingent on Quintain: 

a.     Not pursuing development of site NW04 (see plan above) adjacent to the Civic Centre to the extent currently permitted in the parameters plans associated with outline planning permission 10/3032 
b.     Working with the Council to deliver a development that better complements the role and setting of the Civic Centre, in particular creating a significant new square outside the Civic Centre Library 

c.      Agreeing a business plan and agreement, between Quintain and the council, for the future sharing and reinvestment of the net income generated through assets on Olympic Way in Zones A, B and C. 

d.     Securing up to one third funding contribution from Wembley Stadium owners. 

2.3  Confirm the decision to contribute up to £5.7million+VAT for works to Zone B including Fulton Road Crossing, such contribution contingent on Quintain completing Zone A works and agreeing a business plan and agreement, between Quintain and the council for the future sharing and reinvestment of the net income generated through assets on Zones A and B of Olympic Way.
      2.4  Note that if item 2.2 is confirmed the total contribution for Olympic Way improvements will be up to £17.8 million plus VAT.
       2.5  Delegate agreement of the Business Plan and entering into an agreement for the future sharing and reinvestment of net income generated through assets on Olympic Way to the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment in consultation with the Cabinet Member of Regeneration, Highways & Planning.
       2.6  Subject to the level of funding contribution from Wembley Stadium owners for Zone C improvements as detailed in recommendation 2.2 (d), delegate to the Strategic Director Regeneration and Environment in consultation with the Cabinet Member of Regeneration, Highways & Planning authority to agree the adequacy of such contribution secured.

 The report reveals the existence of a 'Statement of Common Ground' with Quintain:
 A “Statement of Common Ground” dating back to 2010 exists between the council and Quintain that allows for the application of CIL funds by LBB for the delivery of strategic infrastructure as identified in policy and the Infrastructure and Investment Framework (IIF). The above projects are within the IIF. The strategic CIL collected across the Borough, as a consequence of new development, is intended to be spent on infrastructure projects to support the ongoing development of the area, enhanced public realm falls within this, and it is proposed that a contribution from CIL to the costs of the works is appropriate.
I have requested a copy of this document. I did have access to the Section 106 agreement made between the council and Quintain but my latest search LINK returned a 'document unavailable' message. Perhaps it will reappear.

The report documents how far the work has gone so far including the reorientation of the NW04 building next to the Civic Centre which was sought by the council in exchange for funding the Olympic Way works:
Quintain have secured planning consent for Zone B works and have started works in this Zone at their risk as a result of the July 2017 Cabinet decision;
Quintain and the Council have substantially agreed a draft Memorandum of Understanding for the mechanism for releasing the funding for Zones B and C and the principles of the Business Plan under which any net income sharing between Brent Council and Quintain will apply;
WNSL/FA and Quintain have undertaken considerable technical and modelling work to validate the operational efficiency and safety of the proposed steps replacing the pedway;
A planning application has been submitted for the reorientation of the NW04 building which will better complement the role and setting of the Civic Centre, and create a significant new square outside the Civic Centre Library;
A planning application have been submitted for the removal of the pedway and installation of the steps and all Zone C improvement work;
To date Quintain have spent in excess of £1m and are anticipating spending a further £1.5m to £2m (subject to Brent’s confirmation of the funding contribution and WSNL/FA or the new owners agreement to the removal of the pedway) on design fees alone related to Zone B and Zone C.
 If officers seem to be representing Quintain in the above the following passage gives a further nudge in the direction of the Cabinet confirming the decision to fund the pedway from CIL funds:
As indicated in the Cabinet report of July 2017, the intention was to seek contribution from the Football Association towards Zone C works. Officers have been advised there has been a positive indication that the potential new owner may be willing to contribute towards Zone C works. In the event Zone C improvements do not proceed, the pedway will remain in place, the new NW04 building orientation and public square is not likely to progress with the existing NW04 consent taken forward to implementation and the public realm from the foot of the pedway to the stadium will remain unchanged providing an even more uninspiring and disappointing “front door” for the stadium against the new public realm in Zones A and B.
Is it the council's task to provide an 'inspiring front door' to what will be a private stadium?

Interestingly the original 2010 planning application for NW04 LINK contained the following:
.        Proposed Plot NW04 cannot be constructed in full until the existing Pedway is demolished. The eastern base of NW04 will not be commenced until the Pedway has been removed. Similarly, the eastern element of the SE Pocket will not be delivered until the Pedway has been removed. However, funds for the removal of the Pedway are not available through the Development Proposal forming part of this Application.
Remember that Press Release from Quintain that said they would pay for the 'Olympic Steps?'

The Cabinet report does not mention that and certainly does not explore all the other possible uses that the £12.1m allocated to the pedway removal and replacement could be spent on to address our crumbling roads and pavements.

The Cabinet meeting is due to last just one hour on Monday and there are other items on the agenda: hardly enough time to carefully consider the issue. I suspect the decision has been made already...


Paul Lorber said...

The front door to my house in Wembley is around 20 years old. I am no longer "inspired" by it and am considering writing to Brent Council to see if they would be willing to pay for a new one.....

More seriously if the prospective new owner of Wembley Stadium can afford to pay in excess £600 million for the Stadium surely he can afford to also pay for the "new door" as the new £10 million + steps will be of benefit to the Stadium and of very little benefit to the rest of the residents in Brent - and the rest of the residents of Brent could then look forward to at least some of their dangerous pavements and crumbling roads being repaired in stead. Is it not tome that Labour Councillors put the needs of Brent residents FIRST?

Jaine Lunn said...

I sincerely hope Brent Council see sense and abort the decision to give CIL money to Quintain whom Lone Star are wishing to offload and valued the company at £3 billion according to Business news. They want it, they should pay all costs attributed as the community as whole will not benefit one iota. The only people who will benefit is fans visiting the stadium on event days and the private renters in Wembley No Park!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Quintain's letting agent, Tipi's advertisement in today's paper? If you are quick you could rent one of their appartments in Alto block for the very, very, affordable price, From £1,755 per calendar month. Even better, you only need to provide a deposit of £1,000 and they state there are no hidden fees. How very affordable and generous. At this bargain price, don't all rush to snap up a couple of flats. Brent is certainly looking after the interests of their residents.

Anonymous said...

The answer to the question in the title was almost certainly "Yes".

The whole Cabinet meeting only took 20 minutes! See: