Two Labour MPs have voiced concerns over proposals for Lewisham Council to carry out a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on Millwall land for property developers.
Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle and Lewisham Deptford MP Vicky Foxcroft, have broth written to the council urging them to “re-examine with the best interests of the club, the community and our boroughs in mind,” after they were contacted by numerous fans in their constituencies.
The Labour Lewisham cabinet are expected to make a decision on the CPO tonight, amid growing pressure from across the country and within their party, with deputy Labour leader Tom Watson expressing a desire to see “Lewisham bring the developer and the club together”.
If the CPO goes ahead, it would see the Den’s car park, land used by the Millwall Community Trust and some other parts bought by the council before being sold onto developers Renewal.
Both the council and Renewal have spent twelve years purchasing land in north Lewisham in order to create a 2,400-home development.
Millwall are opposed to the proposals due to concerns over their long term plans for the area, and have drawn up their own plans for redevelopment.
- “Around 400 homes”
- Safe-guarding Lions Centre
- Five towers at least eighteen storeys high
- Artists’ workshops
- Student accommodation
RENEWAL’S NEW BERMONDSEY
- 2,400 homes,
- New ‘Surrey Canal’ London Overground station
- Two new bus routes
- Indoor sports centre
- 2,000 jobs
- Multi-faith centre
- Hotel and conference centre
- Health complex
The football club’s chairman, John Berylson, recently appealed to the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to intervene in the matter by writing him a letter.
A campaign launched by the club called Defend Our Den has seen support from across the country, gathering more than 24,000 signatures on a petition and the approval of celebrities such as Gary Lineker.
A Lewisham Council spokesman said: “The Council has written to twenty or so leaseholders and freeholders giving them 28 days notice that we plan to take a decision about whether to make a compulsory purchase order (CPO) in respect of a proposed development at New Bermondsey at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, September 7.
“Council officers have gathered all the evidence and produced a report that recommends a clear decision to the Mayor & Cabinet meeting.
“If a CPO is agreed, then subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State, it would facilitate the required land assembly for the proposed development by Renewal Group Limited.
“In 2012 they gained outline planning permission for their proposed scheme which includes, among other things, some 2,400 homes.
“When a CPO is under consideration, the interests of all parties are important – each of the owners of the outstanding freehold and leasehold interests in the area affected by a possible CPO are important in their own right.
“We are aware of facilitated discussions between Renewal and Millwall Football Club. And while the parties have met, they have not, to date, reached any agreement.
“However, the absence of agreement to date does not mean that the Council should postpone its consideration of whether to make a CPO.”
Read MP Neil and MP Vicky’s letter in full:
Dear Lewisham Cabinet Members,
Compulsory Purchasing land around Millwall Football Club
We are writing to you together to outline our severe concerns about Lewisham Council plans to use a Compulsory Purchase Order to buy land around Millwall Football Club and develop it in a way that we, the club and its fans believe is detrimental to its future.
We have both been contacted by many local fans of the club who are distressed to see what they believe are plans that will undermine the club’s future on the border of Lewisham and Southwark.
The club is very concerned about the impact of the existing plans. We are particularly concerned that the full extent of the club’s benefits to the local area and community are recognised.
The Millwall Community Trust does some truly outstanding work in our borough – including helping young people avoid crime and engaging young players on estates in a way that is aimed at tackling the likelihood of joining gangs. The social responsibility of the club is second to no other major team – as demonstrated in an academic study.
There is a move nationally to secure more responsible partnerships and ensure full tax transparency in the UK. This is something we very much support as Labour MPs.
The partner chosen for this project, according to information published by the council, has two parent companies which are both registered offshore and whose ultimate beneficiaries have not been identified. This is in spite of having an office in Lewisham and developing in Lewisham. We find this corporate structure to be of considerable concern.
We will also be contacting the Mayor of London and Sports Minister to outline our concerns about the current plans.
We hope Lewisham Council recognises the Labour Group vote on this issue on Monday night and acts to ensure the current proposals are re-examined with the best interests of the club, the community and our boroughs in mind.
Neil Coyle MP, Vicky Foxcroft MP