Statement from Dulwich Hamlet Football Club on their new stadium planning application

Statement from Dulwich Hamlet Football Club on their new stadium planning application

By Liam Hickey
31st July
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We need your support and comments to secure our future at Champion Hill.


Dulwich Hamlet Football Club are pleased to confirm that the joint application for a new stadium and residential development at Champion Hill has been submitted to Southwark Council and they are now inviting comments.

A successful outcome to this planning application is critical to the ability of the club to continue in its current form and we would encourage all supporters and members of the local community to review the application and submit their comments to the council. We have no wish to tell people what to say but we do want to encourage you to have your say. Feedback from the community and communicating to the council the position the football club has in our community will be a significant factor in any decision.

If you want to help preserve the future of DHFC in our community please make sure you show your support by August 22, 2019, it is important the volume of comments reflects the level of support for the club in the community.

Feedback can be submitted by following three steps:

Click on this link https://planning.southwark.gov.uk/online-applications/ and search for reference: 19/AP/1867

Click on the Make a Comment option

Complete the form and make your comment in the ‘Your Comment’ field and thank you for your support.

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Why a successful outcome for this planning application is critical to the future of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club

DHFC has grown to become a huge community event and now welcomes crowds that often exceed 3,000 supporters but this has also meant the club has to spend a large amount of time and money on a weekly basis to ensure our aging stadium and facilities are a safe and compliant venue. Financially this position is only tenable due to Meadow allowing DHFC to occupy the stadium on a rent-free basis and to generate our own revenue streams from the bar and catering facilities to cover those costs through to the end of the 2019/2020 season. As a fan owned club DHFC could not afford the estimated costs of longer-term renovation (over £2 million) or the estimated costs of a replacement stadium compliant with the demands of the modern game (over £10 million). Only a new stadium at Champion Hill will allow DHFC to deliver the current standard of football to the current level of crowds and continue its work with local schools, groups and charities on a long term basis.

FAQs

Will the stadium will be built on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL)?

No, that’s not a true statement. No section of the stadium building will be on MOL, all buildings will be on the existing Champion Hill site. The pitch though will be on our existing astroturf pitch which is on MOL and will be enclosed which it is not today. The renovation and the enclosure of that pitch was already part of the Southwark Plan for Green Dale Fields before this application was submitted and is therefore due to be actioned regardless of whether there is a stadium adjoining the site.

Can’t we stay where we are and just build a new stadium on the same site?

Even in the dream scenario of DHFC being gifted the land on which Champion Hill sits there would be no viable financial plan which would allow us to play there in the long term. The cost of renovations, let alone improving and expanding the facilities, are not remotely affordable for a fan owned club. Even the alternative plans suggested to redevelop the stadium on the same site with fewer residences, whilst well-meaning, would bankrupt the club as it could not survive away from Champion Hill for the time required for the demolition and construction of a new stadium.

Why can’t the club survive by playing elsewhere?

We could move but at our current level it would not be elsewhere in Southwark. To play in the National League you need a stand with 500 covered seats and Champion Hill is the only stadium with a stand of that capacity in the borough. We also know from our experience last year that moving out of the borough would result in a 90% drop in revenues, as attendances shrunk to around 800 on a Saturday and we would lose the income from sponsorship and bar and catering facilities. So, we could relocate but it would be on a smaller scale and at a much lower level than we play at today and we would no longer be part of our local community. Even a temporary relocation for two seasons would create a debt in excess of £1 million unless we were to cut the coaching, management and playing budget and start again in the lower leagues.

Couldn’t a rich owner solve those problems and allow us to stay where we are?

Yes. If we wanted to be a club that sold out to a wealthy owner who bought out the current land owners then yes, we would concede that many of our barriers which make any alternative plans to this application impossible would fall away and we could run at a loss for as long as they wanted to fund it. This though would come at the cost of losing our status as a fan owned club run for the benefit of the community and also undo the hard work of creating the debt free club we have today which then increases the longer-term risk of insolvency.

Doesn’t this application mean the club has to move temporarily anyway?

No, a critical part of our planning has been to ask Meadow to phase the development to allow us to stay at Champion Hill and they have agreed to deliver the new pitch, terracing and seating which will allow us to continue to use the facilities in the current stadium while the new facilities are built behind the seating. Only once the full stadium facilities are operational will our old stadium be demolished and the residential development commence. This ensures continuity of the club in the community with minimal impact on finances.

Is this the only viable option for the club to continue?

At the current level, with our crowds, our players and staff yes, this is the only viable option. Without this plan a new home would be required and there are no viable alternative locations in the local community so we would either be playing locally on a much smaller scale or forced to move outside of the community.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have via email at hello@dulwichhamletfc.co.uk.

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