Millwall issued a statement on 6 February welcoming the decision of Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet to terminate the conditional land sale agreement by which the freeholds of the land leased to Millwall Football Club and Millwall Community Trust could have been sold to a property developer. With the termination of that agreement, we can get on with our plans for extending the stadium and creating a vibrant new community in Lewisham. Millwall’s Chairman, Chief Executive and senior Director met with Mayor Damien Egan and Lewisham’s Head of Programmes on Monday 10 February and had a wide-ranging, positive discussion about the way forward.
We now need to reach agreement with Lewisham Council on the new lease for The Den and adjoining land, the terms of which will be vital in ensuring our plans are viable. We expressed to the Mayor our wish that advancing the speed of these discussions is urgent and in everyone’s interests to unlock the potential of the development for all. Once we have agreed a new lease we can prepare our planning application. It is our intention to link with a developer partner and discussions in that respect are well advanced.
Millwall’s ambition is to have a stadium with facilities that are ultimately fit for Premier League football, new sources of non-football revenues to provide long-term financial sustainability to the club, and new resources and facilities to benefit the local community. The significant benefits and opportunities resulting from our plans, both during construction and thereafter, are evident. There will be a hugely positive impact in terms of community, housing, health and well-being, employment, transport and public finances.
The proposals under development, which are being prepared by AFL Architects whom we appointed last year, include a strategy for incremental, phased expansion of the existing stadium, up to a total maximum capacity of 34,000 seats, built as additional upper tiers behind the existing seating bowl. This will not only provide the facilities needed to meet Premier League requirements – such as additional media and player accommodation – but also in time will provide enhanced facilities for fans to transform their matchday experience.
Part of the proposal is the creation of a vibrant new public plaza at the heart of New Bermondsey, providing a valuable amenity for the surrounding community – new and old – as well as an engaging space for fans on matchdays. This is elevated over parking and service areas and accommodates retail, commercial and community use spaces along the street frontages. Complementing all of this will be flexible commercial space for events and conferencing, alongside residential developments.
This diverse development mix will help to ensure the long-term success of the club, its stadium and the Millwall Community Trust, which uses the power of sport to improve the lives of people in Lewisham, Southwark and the wider Millwall community. When Millwall moved to its current stadium in 1993, with help and support from the Council, we took on the obligation of providing facilities for the Millwall Community Trust (MCT) which supported its emergence as one of the best and most respected in the football world. We don’t need to be asked to maintain that obligation now. Our plans incorporate new facilities for the MCT including a sports centre with a sports hall, changing rooms, a gym and a community café. In addition, the Trust will have access to new multi-purpose spaces within a proposed West Stand extension for potential classrooms or fitness studios. Externally, a zone to the south of the stadium is proposed on non-matchdays as a multi-use games area.
The development strategy is to retain as much of the existing stadium structure as possible while providing for a flexible phased uplift to both facilities and capacity over time. This not only maintains the stadium in use for fans, but minimises demolition and construction waste. The design approach is to create spaces that are adaptable, flexible and multi-use, encouraging activity within and around the stadium seven days a week to make optimal use of resources and create a sustainable future for the Club at the heart of New Bermondsey.
Steve Kavanagh, Millwall’s Chief Executive, 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 said: “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.”
The design of the new proposals has been inspired by the history of Millwall Football Club and its surroundings. The use of brickwork arches references the railway viaducts and industrial past that surround the current site, and also those at Millwall Park, which was home to the club on the Isle of Dogs over one hundred years ago, where the brick railway viaduct can be seen in the background of historic match photographs. Internally, as much of the original stadium infrastructure as possible will be kept, to ensure the unique atmosphere of The Den is retained.