Musical Festivals on Wormwood Scrubs Could Fund New Arena

Three options being considered for future of Linford Christie Stadium

Three options being considered for future of Linford Christie Stadium

Wormwood Scrubs looks on its way to getting a huge new “professional sports” or “indoor arena” to replace the Linford Christie Stadium.

Imperial College London, Queen’s Park Rangers FC and a number of private developers have shown interest in investing in redeveloping the Linford Christie.

QPR’s management have long been touting the idea that Wormwood could become the club’s replacement for Loftus Road.

There are also suggestions that income could be raised from allowing music festivals to take place on the Scrubs in 2021. A dance music festival promoter, Slammin’ Events, is said to have shown interest.

This was discussed on Tuesday, 6 October, during a meeting of Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Wormwood Scrubs Charitable Trust Committee.

The council is the only trustee of the Charitable Trust, while the committee makes decisions on how the Scrubs and its facilities are managed, with guidance from council officers.

The committee comprises three councillors, a member of the Friends of Wormwood Scrubs, and Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen, chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

At the meeting, the committee decided that the council should kick off a procurement process to find a private developer who will submit proposals to redevelop the Linford Christie Stadium.

Last year the council ran a public consultation which resulted in 80 per cent of 8,782 respondents saying a “large scale” arena or stadium, with 30,000 seats, should be built.

A report presented to the committee on Tuesday said the council is looking at three main options that developers could base their proposals on:

  • To build “enhanced sports facilities” to replace the Linford Christie “through a deal with Imperial College London”. The university would primarily build the facilities for its students, but also allow Kensington Dragons FC, Thames Valley Harriers and the public to hire them
  • Build a “major indoor arena” more suited to gigs and concerts
  • Build a “professional sports stadium”

The report said the latter two options would “generate higher levels of revenue and greater returns for the Trust”. And that the redevelopment itself would be funded by selling a “long lease” of the site to the chosen developer.

This is an important factor because the council “does not have an appetite to invest major capital or continued revenue to support facilities at the [Linford Christie] Stadium site that do not generate a direct economic return,” the report said.

Wormwood Scrubs
Wormwood Scrubs. Picture: Emma McAdie

At Tuesday’s meeting, David Burns, the council’s assistant director of growth, said the procurement process could conclude, with development options ready to be decided on, “by the end of the financial year”, i.e. March 2021.

This would be followed by a public consultation and planning application process, as well as obtaining permission to override the Metropolitan Open Land protections on the Scrubs.

Meanwhile, the committee heard that festivals promoter Slammin’ Events, has approached the council with the idea of putting on a music festival for “up to 10,000” as a “test event” in 2021.

Stephen Hollingsworth, the council’s chief officer for public realm, said, “Slammin’ Events are keen to engage with us and see festivals and events on the Scrubs…

“What they are saying is they would like to do a test event next year for about 10,000 people, aged 25 to 35. But of course that needs a lot of consultation and lots of mitigation strategies in place… we should invite them along to hear what they’re proposing.”

Committee chair, councillor Alexandra Sanderson, said: “I’m happy with that.

“We’re well aware we need to be mindful of what type of events we let happen on the Scrubs. But I’m very open to the concept of raising funds through events.”

Owen Sheppard - Local Democracy Reporter

October 7, 2020