English Championship football club Millwall has today (Thursday) revealed redevelopment plans for The Den as it looks to bring the stadium up to Premier League standards.
The development comes after the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, revealed last week that a “new vision” had been agreed for the redevelopment of land around The Den, with the plans set to meet the club’s vision to secure a place in the top flight.
The London-based club has recently been involved in a dispute over the future of The Den but this was lifted back in October after a deal was reached to terminate a conditional land sale agreement for an area surrounding the stadium.
Millwall has played at its current 20,000-seat home in Bermondsey since 1993, but in recent years has been faced with the prospect of potentially moving as far afield as Kent. This was due to an agreement concluded in December 2013 between Lewisham Council and development company Renewal for the sale of the freeholds of the land adjoining Millwall’s stadium.
The agreement effectively prevented Millwall from pressing on with plans for the development of the land but Renewal eventually agreed a new approach to enable their sites to go forward for housing and other development.
Millwall has now expressed its wish to push forward with plans to expand the stadium and create a “vibrant new community” in Lewisham. Today’s announcement comes after the club’s senior officials met with Mayor Egan and Lewisham’s head of programmes on Monday to discuss the plans.
An agreement now needs to be reached with Lewisham Council on the new lease for The Den and the adjoining land, which Millwall said will be vital to ensuring the plans can go ahead. Once the new lease is agreed, the club hopes to prepare planning application and Millwall said discussions with a developer partner are well advanced.
The proposals currently under development are being prepared by AFL Architects, which was appointed by Millwall last year. The proposals include a strategy for an incremental, phased expansion of the current stadium, up to a total maximum capacity of 34,000, which would be built as additional upper tiers behind the existing stadium bowl.
Millwall said the expansion would provide facilities that not only meet Premier League requirements but also provide enhanced facilities to transform the match-day experience.
A new public plaza at the heart of New Bermondsey would form part of the proposal, along with flexible commercial space for events and conferencing, and residential developments. The plans will also incorporate new facilities for the Millwall Community Trust.
Under the plans, Millwall would retain as much of the existing stadium structure as possible.
Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh said: “It has been a long and at times difficult journey to this point, but we are delighted with progress now. As long as we can secure an appropriate new lease, we can play our part in the growth and development of Millwall Football Club and its community.
“Over time we will bring our stadium up to Premier League standards while ensuring that our presence in Lewisham is sustainable and that we remain a force for good.”
Bruce Caldwell, senior associate of AFL Architects, added: “This news is the best of all possible outcomes. Not only does the club have a clear plan for its future growth that retains its unique brand, but the wider community will reap the benefits. The retention of much of the existing stadium structure ensures AFL is aligning our development plans with the Architecture Journal’s RetroFirst campaign, championing reuse in the built environment.
“We are also committed to using locally sourced traditional materials where possible, such as London Stock Brick for the stadium facades. We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting, sustainable regeneration and look forward to putting the plans in motion.”
Images: AFL Architects