Stadium-led regeneration of cities
Future Cities Forum ran a fascinating panel last week on the regeneration challenges faced by the owners of leading football, cricket and rugby clubs, their property and design advisers and their city authorities. Please read below and listen to the panel's experiences of working across local communities, in inner city, outer city and heritage settings on the full audio recording.
Paula Carney of WYG, who worked on the planning for Wembley Park from 2002, said: 'The fundamentals of stadium-led regeneration are about place-making but they are challenging. It's not about people turning up once every two weeks for match. There are huge revenue streams that need to be developed so this needs thinking, imagination and careful planning. The old Wembley stadium, surrounded by a swathe of parking spaces, had nowhere to eat or drink and was not producing money for the Borough of Brent, for local businesses or creating community. The redevelopment has provided housing and more life around the stadium with three hotels, new residential and office space, community and cultural events. Quintain orientated the new Wembley arena towards a public plaza.
When questioned about attracting more women to watch sport, and how this can be incorporated into planning and design, Paula said that when the London Designer Outlet at Wembley was marketed it was to younger women of different ethnicities. Paula said in her interview after the event how planning teams must become more diverse:
Bath Rugby has the particular challenges of development on a UNESCO World Heritage site, but shares many of the themes facing inner city sports clubs. Chief Executive Tarquin McDonald said: "We started (for our new stadium plan) not just with a vision but with a purpose. We want to create a space for everyone, and to bring the riverside public spaces and connection to life. I was interested in the future high streets discussion today because many of those themes are relevant to us - if the relationship with a place is transactional, due to the influence of technology, then you do not have to be there.
'We have chosen to be a citizen in the centre of the city, rather than move out, so how can we align what we do with local needs? It's not just about profit, but it's about connecting with parts of the community which do need help and surprisingly there is quite a lot of youth poverty, and those who struggle in mainstream education, in Bath. All of this has to be reflected in the design choices we make.'
Ben Heath, Principal at Grimshaw (the practice working on the new Bath Rugby plan), expanded on the theme that stadia need to be more than 'black box theatres' by saying that "there is a big problem across stadiums which just focus on the event experience, however sophisticated. There is a strong trend now for stadia to be community orientated with many more uses including hotels, retail, residential, council offices and also potential university interaction on the sports science side. The more tunes your stadium can play the more successful it will be for everyone.'
QPR Property's Strategy Director, Alan Sendorek also contributed to the panel discussions and added:
'If we don't invest in a new stadium (and Loftus Road is 101 years old), we will fall down the league, and become a lower league club. There was a trend thirty years ago to move your ground out of town to save money, but the trend now is stay in the city and try to work out what you can do with the stadium to benefit the community and drive bigger revenue streams for the club. If you go to the Emirates or the Oval you will see multi-million pound businesses deriving income from non-match day activities as well as hosting community events which is the answer now for many clubs, This is what we would hope to achieve by regenerating a site like the Linford Christie running track by Wormwood Scrubs Park where Queens Park Rangers can be of real use to the local community and schools.'