Dozens of Millwall FC supporters made their way to Lewisham Council last night to contest plans to sell areas surrounding the team’s stadium to a property developer.
The club was relieved after Lewisham Council last night announced that a compulsory purchase order would not yet be made over the three areas of land, which house the football club’s carpark, leisure centre and cafe.
The club says that losing the land would pose a “serious threat” to its future.
Andy Ambler, chief executive of Millwall FC, said: “We agree with the regeneration of the area, but we need to develop the land and the car park rather than it going into the hands of a property developer. If the compulsory purchase order goes through, which I don’t expect it will, we will fight everything we can.”
The 30-acre area surrounding Millwall’s football stadium, the Den, is part of a vast regeneration scheme. The New Bermondsey development will, according to property developer Renewal, result in an indoor sports village and new overground station as well as 2400 new homes and 2000 jobs.
Ambler hopes that further discussions with the council will solve the dispute which has been on-going for years. He would prefer to see the football club build a hotel and 400 new homes on the land, which they currently lease.
The campaign to save the Den has gained much support both within the football community and from local councillors. The online petition Defend Our Den has reached over 16,000 signatures since it was launched a couple of days ago.
Vicky Foxcroft, the MP for Lewisham, urged the council to reconsider its plans in an open letter to the Mayor and the Cabinet after having received a large number of emails and tweets from worried football fans. She also voiced concerns over Renewal’s plans to subcontract parts of the development.
“There are of course other areas within the plans and the CPO that concern me. In particular, the fear that the land will just be sold off to private developers despite a lack of real affordable housing in the area,” she wrote in the letter.
A report by Lewisham council on the New Bermondsey scheme however states that “despite being given ample opportunity to do so” Millwall FC have not submitted a planning proposal with a funding strategy to demonstrate how they would develop the land themselves.