Queens Park Rangers (QPR) Football Club has gained planning permission to construct a new training ground, which will be built on a site in Heston, close to Heathrow Airport.
The club has revealed that following the decision, groundworks will start imminently, with undersoil heating being laid under what will become the new playing surfaces of the complex. Construction of the rest of the £20 million site, such as offices, training rooms, medical facilities and parking, will begin before the end of the year.
Commenting on the decision, chief executive officer at the club Lee Hoos said: “This is fantastic news for the club’s medium and long-term future so I am absolutely delighted, as are the owners.”
He added: “Investment in infrastructure, such as a bespoke training ground, is the greatest indication of an ownership which is here for the long term.”
Mr Hoos said the development, which will be used by both the first team and under-23s, will be funded by a new bond that supporters of the club can buy to effectively crowdfund the development, a financing method he noted both Burnley and Norwich City have used to pay for new training complexes.
Following this comment, the club announced the launch of the QPR Bond, which fans can purchase for at least £500 with the promise of five per cent annual interest payments, as well as discounts on club merchandise and a one-off 25 per cent discount on season tickets if the club is promoted to the Premier League in the five-year lifetime of the bond.
The construction project is the latest football-related development to require plant hire in West London, which is home to four professional clubs.
Brentford, who have just begun life as a Premier League Club for the first time, now play at the 17,250-seat Brentford Community stadium, which was custom built and completed last year, although due to the pandemic the first games there – as well as the final matches at the club’s old Griffin Park home – had to be played behind closed doors.
While European champions Chelsea have not made any recent attempts to move or alter their facilities , neighbours Fulham are currently constructing a large new stand at their Craven Cottage home.
Because the site is on the banks of the Thames, this has necessitated the construction of a new wooden platform over part of the river, a solution also used at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on the banks of the Taff.
The new project at Heston won’t involve anything quite so technical, but QPR has employed architects and consultants with extensive experience in sporting stadia and facility projects.
Studio Zoppini Architetti, which designed the complex, is currently developing a new stadium for Italian club Parma and has worked on three Olympic venues, while consultants hgh Consulting have been involved with other London stadium projects, including Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the London Olympic Stadium.
Design engineering consultants Buro Hapold worked in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the new Edrich and Compton stands at Lord’s Cricket Ground and are currently engaged on Everton’s forthcoming Bramley Moore Dock stadium. White Horse Contractors will bring their specialist expertise to the project, including hybrid grass and Astroturf pitches.
The fact that so many of these projects have been in London is an indication of how busy the construction sector has been – and will continue to be – in delivering new sports-related projects, even more than ten years on from the completion of the 2021 Olympic facilities.
Other football clubs in London to develop new stadiums include Barnet, who moved from Underhill to the Hive London Stadium in Harrow in 2013 and expanded the venue with a new stand in 2016.
Another case was that of AFC Wimbledon, formed after the original Wimbledon was allowed to decamp to Milton Keynes in the 2000s. After rising through the ranks of non-league to reach the Football League inside a decade, the club was able to develop a new stadium near the original club’s old ground on Plough Lane and played their first match there in 2020.
In addition, Lord’s is not alone in new cricket stand development, as the Kia Oval across the Thames finished the triple-deck M.H. Galadari Stand last year, with the facility being filled for international games this year.
With 13 Premier League and Football League clubs in London and two non-league clubs who were in the Football League until recently, it is likely that contractors in the capital will have many more projects to work on in the years ahead.