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Row over money puts Wembley plans on hold

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DISPUTE OVER the funding of local infrastructure improvements this week threatened to delay construction of Wembley's new national soccer stadium by up to a year.

Brent Council and development consortium Wembley National Stadium are locked in a stalemate over who pays for improvements to the local road network and Tube station.

A planning application is due to be submitted on 24 April. The council is looking for a contribution of around £30M from the developer to fund the upgrades. Without this money the application is expected to be refused which would then force the developer to appeal to the Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions.

A spokesman for the Wembley National Stadium consortium said it was confident it could win the appeal but said the process could take a year.

The new facility, he said, would then finish in 2004 instead of 2003, but 'still in time for the 2006 World Cup'.

He added: 'Our argument is that the difference between the old and the new is a capacity of just 10,000 more spectators, and that it does not need £30M of improvement to cope. Other stadiums have not had to pay anything like that sum.'

But Brent Council said the original stadium would never have been given planning consent if such rules had existed in the 1920s.

Improvements, it maintains, are crucial to counter the effects of crowds on locals.

'We also want to improve the public conveniences and parking facilities of the area,' said a spokesman for the council.

Planning regulations demand that developers contribute to any local area improvement made necessary. Brent would like to carry out a £200M plus overall local improvement programme as recommended by the Wembley Task Force last year, and is looking for substantial contributions from London Underground, Railtrack and other interested parties.

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