Planning expires on distinctive gothic stadium design

Herzog & de Meuron Chelsea

Herzog & de Meuron’s striking proposal for a £500m gothic-influenced brick stadium at Stamford Bridge are officially dead in the water.

Chelsea FC’s planning permission, which was granted in 2017 and would have expanded capacity from 41,000 to 60,000, expired this spring. The Premier League club had not started work on the redevelopment.

The design by Beijing Bird’s Nest stadium architect Herzog & de Meuron would have been one of the most unusual in the Premiership.

The Swiss architect, which worked with masterplanner Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, said it was inspired by the gothic architecture of Westminster Abbey, which once owned the site, and by the brickwork of Fulham’s Victorian terraced streets. Chelsea is one of three Premiership clubs in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, along with Fulham and Queen’s Park Rangers.

Herzog & de Meuron Chelsea

The planning consent, which expired on March 31, was the subject of a number of legal challenges all of which were ultimately overcome.

But the club shelved the plans in 2018 “due to the current unfavourable investment climate” and said it did not know when it might reconsider its decision.

Some suggested the real reason was a fit of pique by club owner Roman Abramovich because the UK was dragging its heels on renewing his visa in what commentators saw as retaliation for the Salisbury poisonings.

Herzog & de Meuron Chelsea

The original stadium, designed by Archibald Leitch, opened in 1877 but has been incrementally rebuilt over the decades. KSS was responsible for most of the existing post-modern development which opened around the turn of the century.

Chelsea FC design competition - the gates would go just behind the line of bollards