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Exclusive | Chelsea stadium designers look at new sites in bid to cut costs

Chelsea stadium

The design team working on expansion plans for Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium are attempting to revive the project by slashing costs by as much as £500M, New Civil Engineer can reveal.

Sources close to the project have confirmed that alternative sites are now being looked at, with club bosses believed to be open to the idea of a new location.

However, with planning permission already in place the preferred option is to remain at the current Stamford Bridge site.

Chelsea bosses paused expansion plans last May after the cost of the project soared to around £1bn. It is understood that the club wants the cost to be reduced by “around £500M”, before it gives the green light for the project to be restarted.

Expansion plans were paused 12 months ago, after the cost of the stadium spiralled to an estimated £1bn, having originally been tabled at £500M.

At the time, a spokesperson for Chelsea said the club’s proposed 60,000-seater stadium had been put on ice due to an “unfavourable investment climate”.

A spokesperson for the club confirmed that the stadium is still “completely on hold”, adding that “there has been no time frame set for a reconsideration of this position”.

Aecom is the strategic planner on the job, with WSP and Schlaich Bergermann acting as structural engineers. Herzog & de Meuron is the architect.

Shortly before the project was paused, VolkerFitzpatrick had been named as the preferred bidder for a £95M contract for piling and diversion works at the stadium.

Since then, Ineos owner and Britain’s richest man Jim Ratcliffe has repeatedly been linked with a £2bn takeover of the club.

However, New Civil Engineer understands that Chelsea bosses have held informal talks with stadium designers, suggesting that if the cost can be brought down then the project could be restarted under the current ownership.

Under the original plan, the existing 41,600-seater stadium in west London would be demolished to make way for the construction of the new 60,000 capacity football stadium and an ancillary stadium.

The 6.2ha site is bounded by London Underground’s District line to the north-west, and the Southern mainline railway to the east. Currently, these lines are in open air cuttings, but to increase the capacity of the stadium, decks would be built over the top of the lines to allow the footprint of the stadium to be increased.

Under the plans, the roof of the stadium would be supported by 264 radial steel roof trusses that will span 50m over the stadium bowl. The trusses are supported by a steel tension ring arrangement which is supported by the same number of vertical concrete columns around the stadium’s perimeter.

The main columns around the perimeter of the structure would then be clad in brick.

While revised designs are likely to be simplified, it is understood that any redesign will retain the rail overbuild as it is deemed integral to expansion.

Planning permission for the stadium was granted by London mayor Sadiq Khan and Hammersmith & Fulham Council in January 2017. Under the terms, enabling works must begin by January 2020 or the permission expires. The planning document also states that construction works must begin before January 2023.

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