Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich plan to build Europe’s most expensive stadium at £1bn has again been derailed by a family who lives just behind the Stamford Bridge.
The Crosthwaites have lived in their west London cottage for 50 years and it is so close to the Premier League club’s ground that you could almost kick a football from their doorstep onto the pitch.
The family took out an injunction in May over their belief the towering new 60,000-capacity stadium will cast a permanent shadow over parts of their home.
The new stadium was granted planning permission one year ago and has been signed off by the Mayor of London, but Chelsea have called on the local council to intervene and take advantage of planning laws to stop the injunction effectively ending the planned development.
Billionaire Abramovich is a man who usually gets what he wants, but the dispute has already put the brakes on the project’s investment and there is a risk that Europe’s most expensive stadium may not even get built.
The club have told the local council that work cannot go ahead while there remains a risk the injunction could successfully stop the development. And the council says if it does not act to help Chelsea the “development would not go ahead as proposed”.
The Crosthwaites own a large house in an expensive part of west London – a three-bedroom property on the same street sold for £1.18m last year.
Chelsea’s offer of legal advice worth £50,000, and further compensation understood to be in the region of a six-figure sum could not persuade them to waive their ‘right to light’ in their home.
Daughter Rose says their home is the nearest property to the new stadium. And even though it’s on the other side of a railway from Stamford Bridge – and in a different borough – she says that “sunlight and daylight will be seriously affected”.
“It is deemed as having an unacceptable and harmful impact by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea,” she added in a recent letter as part of the case.
The family have said via their lawyers they are not opposed to the redevelopment of the stadium, but have suggested the east stand in question could be “cut-back or re-designed so as not to cause interference”.
And they have highlighted a “disproportionate amount of hospitality seating” which takes up more space than normal seating.
They say there will be almost 17,000 hospitality seats, 28% of the total, and compare that to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium where hospitality comprises 16% of the capacity.
The family also believe Chelsea’s attempt to effectively sidestep the injunction with the help of Hammersmith and Fulham council is not in the public interest and possibly illegal.
Their house sits in the neighbouring Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which they say has been firmly opposed to the development.
Abramovich has wanted to increase Chelsea’s stadium capacity for several years but was thwarted in his earlier attempts to buy Battersea Power Station, ultimately losing out to property developers.
If successful, the Blues would not be able to move into their new home until the 2024-25 season, yet it would at last put them in line with their main London rivals.
Eleven years ago, Arsenal built the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium, in 2016 West Ham moved to the 57,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, and Tottenham are redeveloping their White Hart Lane ground at the moment.
The 41,000-capacity Stamford Bridge is the seventh biggest stadium used by a Premier League team, well behind Manchester United’s 75,500-seater Old Trafford.
Chelsea are yet to find a temporary home for the four years it might take to build the new stadium, but Wembley Stadium is being considered as a possible option.