Belfast Telegraph

Fernandes: Move key to Premier plan

QPR owner Tony Fernandes has stressed the need to move away from their Loftus Road home if the west London club are to continue to thrive in the Barclays Premier League.

However the club look set for a drawn-out legal planning process, with motor dealership Car Giant also determined to redevelop the site QPR have proposed for a new football stadium.

Loftus Road has been the club's base for over a century, but the stadium holds just 18,439 spectators, currently the lowest capacity in the English top flight.

Fernandes believes relocating to a new 40,000 seat, multi-purpose stadium approximately three miles away at Old Oak Common would allow the club to fully develop potential and presents the "only realistic place for us to move."

According to QPR, the project, which is in its first stage of consultation, would also create 24,000 homes, 55,000 jobs and community facilities as part of a regeneration of the area, which the club says is, at present, a "patch of unsightly and under-used land".

However, car dealership Car Giant also has its own plans for redevelopment of an area which has been earmarked for a new Crossrail and HS2 'superstation' hub. The car dealership already owns the majority of land, some 47 acres, on Old Oak Common where it has been established for more than 30 years and is a major employer with some 700 jobs.

Negotiations between the two groups have hit an impasse, although the Greater London Authority remains hopeful an amicable agreement over the future of the site can eventually be reached.

Car Giant intends to commence a public consultation on its 'Old Oak Park' regeneration proposal for early in the new year, with a planning application supporting the Mayor of London's proposal to build a total of 24,000 new homes set for autumn 2015.

QPR, though, remain totally committed to their own relocation proposals.

Fernandes said: "We need to move on from Loftus Road if we are to sustain a top-flight football club and Old Oak Common is the only realistic place for us to move.

"(It is) close to our fans and our roots, with great transport links, and the opportunity to be at the heart of the most exciting new development in west London for years."

The club have conducted their own research into the project which involved a six-day public exhibition, meetings with local groups, 50,000 newsletters and a project website.

QPR say their findings have been favourable, with 88 per cent supporting Old Oak as the location for the Hoops' new stadium.

"We are delighted that so many of our fans and members of the local community share our vision for the future of both QPR and Old Oak," Fernandes added. "This is only the first stage of consultation and we will continue to work with the community as we develop our plans in more detail.

"Old Oak is the biggest regeneration since the Olympics and we have a responsibility to future generations to get it right.

"We need a comprehensive planned approach with a stadium as its beating heart, led by a football club with a stronger interest in the local community than any other kind of business."

The managing director of Car Giant, Tony Mendes, meanwhile, believes his company's own proposals are best suited to the site.

"The plans of Old Oak Park will bring a new and vibrant destination to London with large public open spaces, new schools, waterside recreational areas, thousands of affordable homes for the local community and thousands of new jobs," Mendes said in a statement released to Press Association Sport.

"We are making good progress and our public consultation will begin soon asking for community input to assure the regeneration can bring what the residents would like within this exciting new development.

"Our design plans will be based around quality and sustainable open spaces and buildings, and will include an upgrade of the rundown Grand Union Canal. The team looks forward to working with the statutory authorities and the local residents to bring the regeneration plans to life.

"In establishing Old Oak Park Ltd, Car Giant is progressing plans for outline planning permission and has started conducting site surveys.

"We have a firm and compelling vision for Old Oak Common."


From Belfast Telegraph