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Millwall welcome latest twist in stadium saga

It seemed that Lewisham Council had won and the football club had lost in the battle over its land – but everything is back up in the air

Millwall chairman John Berylson

Millwall Football Club have welcomed news that rank-and-file councillors have forced the Lewisham ruling executive to think again about buying up land around the Den for regeneration.

The mayor and cabinet had agreed to move forward with Compulsory Purchase Orders on the land in New Bermondsey despite the club’s fears that it would undermine their ability to function properly.

Now councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny committee have voted unanimously to “call in” the plan, forced further investigation into the idea. They expressed concerns that the regeneration scheme’s viability, saying it risked the reputation of the council.

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The council needs to the land to complete a jigsaw of redevelopment working with partner Renewal. The scheme, which has been on the drawing board for years, should create 2,400 new homes.

Millwall chairman John Berylson said he was the latest decision gave him “encouragement”.

The New Bermondsey development

He said: “Seven committee members backed the call in, none opposed and one abstained on the basis he had not read the documents.

“Millwall will continue to make its case to stop the CPOs and once again urges the council to call off this process so the authority and Renewal can get back round the table with the club, the residents and local businesses facing the threat of compulsory purchase.

“We fully support the regeneration but want to play a part in delivering it to protect the interests of the club, our fans and the wider community.”

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Millwall has its own rival scheme which, it says, would fulfil the needs of the council while preserving the land leased to the club and the Millwall Community Trust.

The Defend Our Den petition , backed by local MPs Vicky Foxcroft and Neil Coyle, attracted 26,000 signatures.

Mr Berylson said: “Hopefully after the decision by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Lewisham and Renewal will see sense and sit down with us to make this work for everyone.”

What Renewal says

Director at Renewal Jordana Malik said: "We respect the decision made by the Overview and Scrutiny Business Panel and we recognise this is part of the on-going CPO process.

"All issues raised by the committee have been comprehensively addressed in the report for the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on September 7. The Mayor and Cabinet were satisfied that the pre-conditions for compulsory purchase have been met and we are confident therefore, that the CPO process will be able to proceed."

"We have spent the last 12 years assembling the land required to progress the development of this site, which will provide 2,400 new homes; a new Overground station and bus routes; new public sports and community facilities, parks and squares; new bars, shops and restaurants and improvements to Millwall FC’s stadium – creating 2,000 jobs for local people.

"We are fully committed to bringing positive change to the area and remain focused on delivering one of the largest regeneration schemes in London for Lewisham.”

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