In news that has fallen through the cracks of the past three weeks of transfer, football, and interview drama, Chelsea have plans in motion to expand the footprint of the grounds at Stamford Bridge by acquiring 60 per cent of the two-acre Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation property that’s behind the wall across from the stadium’s main entrance (i.e. the West Stand).
Very interesting Stamford Bridge news. Chelsea FC's neighbours, veterans charity Stoll, plan to sell part of their Fulham Road site to the club, to fund additional housing for vulverable veterans. Land gained by Chelsea could increase space available for their stadium rebuild. https://t.co/s82VdPeFg6— Dan Levene (@danlevene) January 18, 2018
While it’s not clear exactly how Chelsea plan on using the additional 1.2 acres, should the acquisition go through, it will at the very least create additional room between the proposed new stadium and Fulham-Broadway tube station, which should improve access and perhaps even exit capacity while also perhaps providing an option where the tube tracks don’t have to be covered over as per the current plans. Chelsea do have planning permission from the Borough as well as the London Mayor’s office, but agreements with the railroads are still pending. (Meanwhile, the issue regarding light rights is surely not quite settled yet despite the local council intervening to move things along.)
The Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation is a veterans’ charity that provides support and, specifically at this site (Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions), housing for ex-servicemen and women. They are currently in the midst of a consultation for a complete rebuild of the Mansions (save for the historic facade), reducing the number of properties on site from 157 over 100-year-old flats to 103 state-of-the-art ones, as well as building 300 more new ones elsewhere to help address a general shortage in such housing across the UK. Fewer properties would require less land, enabling the Foundation to also raise money by selling the land to Chelsea Football Club.
The consultation will run for about another month, before the Board of Trustees makes their final decision. Construction would be expected to take place around 2019-2021 (in line with the stadium rebuild) and current residents would be compensated either £7000 or £16,000 based on whether they’d choose to stay or choose to leave for housing elsewhere). There is no figure put on how much Chelsea would be paying for the land, but given the SW6 post code, it could be a sizable amount — though still peanuts compared to the roughly £1b estimate for the new stadium.
As the rudimentary satellite view above shows, the Stoll site is exactly in-between the Bridge and the station at the moment, with the new stadium plans calling for a decking over the railway north of the site to allow direct access to the station (currently, everybody has to pile out onto Fulham Road, running at the bottom edge of the picture, which limits the stadium’s capacity).
Based on the new Stoll mansions proposal, they would take the southern portion of the current site and sell the top 60 per cent to Chelsea, which would create a nice open plaza and funnel towards the station. I’m not sure it would allow for a bigger stadium however, as the plans are maximizing the width of the site already (and those buildings between the stadium and Fulham Road are not going anywhere.
Theoretically, the stadium could possibly be rotated 45-90 degrees now that the site is extra long, at the cost of another decade of delays or however long it’s taken us just to get to this point.