Barn Elms plan clears Government planning hurdle
proposals to build a centre for sporting excellence on the
banks of the River Thames at Barn Elms have moved a step closer
after the lifting of a Government embargo which prevented
planning permission being formally granted.
The Government Office for London (GoL) has announced that
after scrutinising the plans for six months the scheme can
now proceed as originally drawn up. The GoL announcement means
that planning permission for the multi-million pound scheme
has now been finally granted.
approval was actually granted by Richmond Council in March,
but on May 4 the then Secretary of State John Prescott ordered
Richmond to withhold the formal consent until further notice
so that ministers could inspect the plans.
Falconer, the minister now responsible for planning issues,
has finally confirmed that he has
no objections to the project and it can now proceed without
a public inquiry.
will now attempt to pull together a coalition of sporting
groups to finance the scheme, which has seen its construction
costs rocket following a 30 month delay in obtaining planning
planning application for the 100 acre site was submitted jointly
by both Richmond and Wandsworth councils on April 12, 1999.
Although the land is owned by both authorities, because it
lies entirely within Richmond's boundaries, that council is
the sole planning authority. Planning law requires these applications
to be considered within eight weeks but Richmond's planners
did not consider it until March 29, 2001, when it was approved.
two year wait was then delayed by another six months following
the Government's intervention in May. As a result of these
delays, construction costs have increased from the £11m
originally budgeted for to an estimated £17m today.
Council is now arranging an urgent meeting with UK Athletics
in order to gauge their support for the project. The support
of UK Athletics is crucial if the scheme is to attract lottery
funding. The plans already have the backing of Sport England
and a number of other sports' governing bodies, who all wish
to see the Barn Elms site developed as a centre for sporting
project would see enhanced and improved facilities for a range
of sports. The improvements include floodlit tennis courts
and hockey pitches, a refurbished boathouse with café,
plus upgrades to football, rugby and angling facilities on
the Wandsworth part of the site. On Richmond's land, the existing
athletics track would be refurbished and a new indoor athletics
Elms has been used as sports venue for at least 50 years but
over that time many of the facilities have become dilapidated
and are in urgent need of refurbishment.
cabinet member for environment and public services Guy Senior
said: "I almost can't believe it, but I am delighted
to be able to say that these much needed plans for better
sporting facilities at Barn Elms have finally been approved.
I am pleased we are now able to move forward, I am extremely
concerned over the length of time it has taken the various
planning authorities to get their act together. I just hope
that their unwillingness or inability to act within a reasonable
timescale hasn't jeopardised large sections of the masterplan.
we had two years of dithering and time wasting from Richmond
before they managed to make a relatively straightforward decision
and then we had the Government's last minute intervention,
which achieved nothing but waste another six months and push
the costs up even higher. The costs of this project has now
risen from the £11m it would have cost to build in 1999
to the £17m it will now total. This extra money will
obviously have to be found from somewhere.
the Government's decision to pull the plug on Picketts Lock,
I imagine there is a large sum of money in the accounts of
UK Athletics. Some of this money could now be used at Barn
Elms to provide the sort of world class athletics facilities
that Londoners deserve.
must hope that UK Athletics feels the same way and offers
us their support. If they are not willing to do so then we
may have to look at other interested parties who want to secure
modern purpose-built indoor facilities at a site that has
the potential to be one of the jewels in London's sporting