This item first appreared in the Harroagte programme, but we have reproduced it here in full:
Roger Hobkinson outlines positive progress on two projects for our sustainable success – completing Plough Lane and finding our own training ground. Plus, from the professional expertise within our supporter base, adding to our “Development Advisory Group.” Whose purpose would be to advise and monitor both projects as they advance in the coming years. Read on to learn more.
In our early years I was on the original Stadium Working Group led by Tom Adam, undertaking early site options and development strategy work. This culminated with a presentation in 2012 to Merton politicians who remarked “great work, it has to be Wimbledon Stadium.” My professional expertise is property development, urban regeneration, place making and tourism projects across Britain, Ireland, and globally. I have 25 years’ experience in the strategic advisory teams of property advisors – Cushman & Wakefield, Jones Lang LaSalle and Colliers International. I now have my own consulting practice and am retained by Colliers.
In January 2021, the DTb and Club asked me to be an internal advisor, on a voluntary basis, to consider our Stadium and Training ground opportunities. Input has come from fellow fans Chris Brodie, Dan Norris, Nicole Hammond, Rosie Caley, Mike Dowek and Kevin Hother plus the much-missed Dennis Lowndes. Thank you!
First our training ground search
The vision is for an AFC Wimbledon football and sports campus, an elite training facility alongside community sports. In summary:
· We drafted our training ground requirements
· Visited and ranked sites in Merton
· Met with a community group who back our vision for one site
· Entered a competitive tendering process for a site, prepared a concept and business case but withdrew to focus elsewhere
· With WiSH added depth to Merton’s “London’s Sports Borough” proposition and how our Sports Campus can support it
· A further meeting with Merton is planned soon
Stadium Precinct, our amazing opportunity
Remember our home is only 20% complete, picture its magnificence when finished.
In the future our Stadium Precinct, the land we own, in high value, high population southwest London should generate attractive levels of non-match day income to compliment match day revenue. Here is a vision for our Stadium Precinct:
“With an atmospheric football stadium at its heart offering a superb match day experience, our stadium precinct will be a 15-minute neighbourhood hub offering live, work, visit, play, learn and meet opportunities for all generating sustainable income to support our long term success.”
We also want our wider Stadium District to continue to improve and for people to see the area differently, more of a destination with multiple reasons for people to come.
Since January 2021 we have:
– Met with Merton officers three times
– Met with Wandsworth officers, councillors and the GLA
– Met with St Georges, local landowners, businesses, and local property agents
– Received free research on stadium uses from Kingston University Business School
Most significantly in spring 2021 a brief was prepared seeking pro bono advice with the following ask:
“Please reimagine how Plough Lane might be completed to deliver the maximum capacity and the maximum non match day income from commercial uses.”
During summer 2021 we received about £100,000 of free work from four major advisors. Thank you KSS, Buro Happold as one team and AECOM another, whilst Colliers provided property development and financial appraisal advice.
What does the early work show?
With us retaining freehold ownership, the market context is good, the early ideas are viable and we could generate an attractive level of income, a capital payment, or a mix of both as part of a stadium led property development. As a fans’ owned club we might receive diversified income from commercial uses that few other clubs could only dream of.
· Design ideas suggest a capacity of 17 to 18,000 whilst accommodating a mix of commercial uses
· Merton Council are supportive
· The four advisors consider it a great opportunity
· We need clarity of what we want from a project and strong governance in place
· Would a development competition to find a development partner be appropriate?
· With us retaining ownership there are various approaches to ours and partner participation
· We have already received expressions of interest from potential partners but nothing more
· Considered existing stadium spaces and the optimisation of revenue potential per square metre
At present we have ambition but less ability to deliver. Our financial resources are focused on the pitch and the potential of the West Stand. We need money to take the early work to the next level. How about completion targets of 2025 for the training ground and 2030 for Plough Lane?
To help us do you have expertise and experience in the following and would you be interested in joining an expanded Development Advisory Group please?
· Masterplanning, landscape/urban design, architecture, interiors, space planning, cost consulting, engineering, project management, property, town planning, valuation, property investment/funding, community consultation plus operational uses such as hotels, residential, leisure, entertainment, retail, and office space.
This work will help position us for sustainable success, offer a wonderful legacy for our local community and Wimbledon supporters of the future. Please do get in touch at email@example.com subject Development Advisory Group