Southwark Council are in the process of drafting new site allocations and area visions for the New Southwark Plan. Included within this was an allocation for the existing Champion Hill stadium site including the land around the stadium (car wash, car park) and the land on which the stadium buildings sit (health club, bar, changing rooms etc.) but specifically excluding the football pitch. The important bit here is that development of all land except the pitch means that the Club would have to function without any of the basic ancillary elements (turnstiles, stands, bar, changing rooms) that are essential to be able to function at even a basic level of football let alone one at Isthmian level or above. Whilst we welcome the inclusion of the Champion Hill site in the proposals (in the sense that there is an understanding from the Council that the site can be redeveloped in the future), the current proposals do not have sufficient consideration for the Football Club and its ability to function properly. We urge all supporters to take the opportunity to make comments on this document by 7 July.
A bit on what that the document title terminology actually means:
Area Visions provide the strategic vision for the future of Southwark’s distinct places and neighbourhoods. They set out key infrastructure enhancements, opportunities for public realm and transport improvements and growth opportunities for new homes and jobs. Area Visions also identify the prevailing character of different places to be renewed, retained or enhanced. Development proposals should be formulated in the context of the relevant Area Vision and should demonstrate how they contribute towards realising the strategic vision for that area.
And relevant to Champion Hill…
Site Allocations are planning policies which apply to key potential development sites. Site Allocations set out the land uses that must be provided as part of any redevelopment, alongside other acceptable land uses that may be provided in addition to the required land uses. For example, Site Allocations may specify that development must provide new public open space, new public access routes, and new health or education facilities.
The Council’s preferred option draft document, which can be found here, seeks to allocate the ancillary areas highlighted above for residential use but omits to include a football stadium as a required use on the site or indeed make reference to the need for an improved and expanded facility which would be of great benefit to the wider community.
We have concerns over the proposals and our letter to Southwark Council setting out our comments on the proposed site allocation can be found here but we urge supporters of the Club to write in with their own comments and help ensure that the future of the Club is not adversely affected by the proposals from the Council. Details of how you can do this and guidance on what to say can be found here. The deadline for submission of comments is 7 July so don’t delay and feel free to ask us any questions by emailing us.
It’s important that we make our views known at this stage, particularly as the Council’s statement of case (in relation to the planning application appeal) makes specific reference to the proposals for Champion Hill in the New Southwark Plan and notes that these should have progressed to ‘submission stage’ by the time of inquiry. If the proposals as drafted are approved in their current form then not only will this add weight to the case against the proposed redevelopment of Champion Hill but will in effect set in place a strategy that allows redevelopment on all land except the pitch – this is a gross misunderstanding of the Club’s needs both now and for any future progression. As most supporters will be aware, for the Club to have no basic ancillary facilities such as changing rooms, turnstiles, bar etc. would mean that the Club would in effect be playing at County level or below. Put simply, the Council’s lack of proper consideration for the Football Club in the proposed Plan risks the future of the Club. We urge all supporters to make their feelings known on this and help ensure that the New Southwark Plan site allocation for Champion Hill is set out in a way which does not harm our future.