Plan to sell Millwall FC land is scrapped

Lewisham Council has dropped a compulsory purchase order that would have allowed a charity to go ahead with planned development

Millwall's New Den
Millwall's New Den

Lewisham Council in south London has dropped plans to issue a compulsory purchase order that would have allowed a charity to press ahead with a controversial £1bn development scheme on land around Millwall Football Club’s ground.

The Surrey Canal Sports Foundation, which planned to build a sports facility as part of the New Bermondsey regeneration scheme, is also being investigated as part of an independent inquiry instigated by the council.

It emerged last week that the Charity Commission had also opened a case on the charity at the beginning of January, which a spokeswoman said was examining a range of issues.

The developer planning the regeneration scheme, Renewal, which set up the SCSF in 2011, said it would provide 2,400 homes and an improved setting for Millwall FC’s stadium. The SCSF claimed it had received a pledge from Sport England of £2m toward the proposed sports facility, but this has been denied by the funder itself.

The council had said in September 2016 that a compulsory purchase order should be made to secure the land around the football stadium for the development, only for the CPO to be suspended earlier this month.

The council’s cabinet said in a statement today that it had dropped the compulsory purchase order completely. The statement said: "The council is not now proceeding with any compulsory purchase order on New Bermondsey. Any decision that the council may take in the future will be a wholly new decision."

Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, is also a trustee of the charity, and in a statement published today he denied there had been a conflict of interest.

"The proposed development was given planning permission in late 2011 by the strategic planning committee. That committee is independent of the mayor and cabinet and I am not nor ever have been a member of it. I have not taken part in any subsequent decisions that were required to be taken either by cabinet or a planning committee.

"Consideration of a proposed CPO which arises from the decision taken by the planning committee is the responsibility of the mayor and cabinet, and this began in February 2016. For the reasons stated above I have played no part in those discussions."

He said he believed that all concerns about the development should be thoroughly addressed and the CPO should not proceed.

The cabinet statement added that a "period of calm reflection" was needed and the council would be seeking to speak to all those with a direct interest in the future of the area, including the football club, the Millwall Community Trust and others affect by the CPO, to fully understand their concerns.

"We are calling on all parties to engage constructively with each other in an attempt to find a workable solution," it said.

Third Sector contacted the charity for comment but instead received a statement from the developer Renewal, which said the company supported the decision to drop the CPO and the investigation of the charity.

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