Overwhelming Support for Redevelopment of Linford Christie Stadium

QPR say result is 'huge endorsement' of their plans

Linford Christie Stadium. Picture: Julia Gregory

Thousands of West Londoners want a major new sports stadium to be built in White City, a survey has shown.

A consultation on what to do with the Linford Christie Sports Centre had 8,782 replies.

But the consultation does not answer the much-talked-about question of whether the stadium could become a new home for Queens Park Rangers FC.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council held the survey following talks with QPR over whether the club could relocate to the site. But the two sides had seemed unable to find common ground.

An overwhelming majority of 81% supported “major redevelopment” of the site in Wormwood Scrubs park. The council indicated this could mean a £400 million “mixed use” stadium with up to 45,000 seats, suitable for events including “concerts, trade shows, exhibitions,” as well as “capacity for football and other sports provision”. 18% of respondents said the current facilities should be improved, with no major development.

When asked the multiple-choice question “what kind of uses” should the stadium have, 77% ticked “professional sports”. “Community sports” was also ticked by 73%. While 52% said it could also be a “major entertainment” venue, and 43% said athletics. QPR has repeatedly stated their preference would be for a smaller, 30,000 seat stadium, that they could lease from the council.

Commenting on the results, QPR chief executive Lee Hoos said: “The fact that more than four out of every five of [the respondents] spoke up in favour of a major redevelopment of the Linford Christie Stadium is a huge endorsement of the QPR option.

“By far the most popular answers about uses of the site were for a professional sports team and to promote community sport, both of which are what we hope a development involving QPR and QPR in the Community Trust would offer.”

Nearly 90% of the respondents also wanted improved facilities at the site, to benefit people who use Wormwood Scrubs. 79% wanted a better cafe and 69% wanted new changing rooms.

The biggest group of respondents were people who use the athletics facilities at the Linford Christie and Wormwood Scrubs park.

Nearly three quarters of the group said they were Londoners. 19% said they lived in the four wards closest to the site, indicating they were local. 4% said they lived elsewhere in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. 48% lived in other parts of Greater London.

Perhaps surprisingly, less than one fifth of the sample identified themselves as QPR fans.

When asked “what is your connection” to the Linford Christie Stadium, 49% said they use the sports facilities, 26% said they use the pitches on Wormwood Scrubs. 40% said they live locally, suggesting some of these respondents lived in neighbouring parts of Ealing or Brent. Whereas 7.6% said they had “no connection”, or gave no answer.

However, 22% ticked they had an “other connection”. When asked to specify this, the most common response was “a QPR supporter”.

Picture: GetWestLondon

The club had repeatedly urged its fans to take part in the consultation urging them to back its preference, that a 30,000-seat football ground should be built, which they could lease from the council.

The club has says its long term future at the 104-year-old Loftus Road ground is “not sustainable”, and that moving to a new stadium at the Linford Christie would be the only way to keep the club in the local area.

The results of the consultation, which ended on June 12, were published as part of a report, that will be discussed on Wednesday June 26 at a public meeting of the Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust Committee.

The report recommends that the committee should task the council ― which is the sole funder of the committee ― with developing a business case for the main options: building a new stadium or sprucing up the athletics centre with better facilities. And it suggests the council should hire advisers to help them work on the plans.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Four out of five people who responded to the consultation told us they wanted to see a major redevelopment of the stadium. The Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust will now consider the ways this key community asset can be redeveloped to deliver the best for local people, while safeguarding the natural biodiversity of The Scrubs.”

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

June 22, 2019