Spurs may relocate for season as stadium plans delayed further in High Court battle
13:32 10 September 2014
Tottenham Hotspur has admitted it is now “highly unlikely” it will start the 2017/18 season in a new stadium - and may be forced to relocate from White Hart Lane for a season - after the final family-run firm standing in the way of redevelopment lodged an appeal in the High Court against being forced out.
The club is set to be dragged in to a lengthy and costly case between Archway Sheet Metal Works and Eric Pickles’ Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which gave the all-clear in July for Spurs to remove the firm from its land.
The compulsory purchase order (CPO) allows the government to agree a fixed fee be paid to Archway for the land, which sits right where the pitch of the proposed 60,000-seater stadium will be.
It is not yet known what Archway’s grounds for appeal are, but, as suggested in July, it could be linked to human rights law and the argument that the local community will not benefit enough from Spurs’ injection of cash to justify uprooting a family firm.
Last year a DCLG planning inspector expressed grave concerns along these lines, questioning the legality of granting the CPO, but his planning inquiry findings were ignored by the government.
"The club has revised its construction programme in order to take the shortest possible time to construct.
This now therefore involves the club moving away from the Lane during construction for a period of one season... We are currently undertaking due diligence on alternative stadium options."
It will likely be several months at least for the High Court appeal to be heard, adding to the 18-month delay already racked up by Mr Pickles’ department in coming to the decision in the first place.
That’s on top of the seven years Spurs says it has been in negotiation with Archway’s owners, the Josif family, over an acceptable price for the land and their relocation costs. Archway is the last remaining firm to reach an agreement.
News of the appeal has forced Spurs to consider leaving White Hart Lane altogether for a season so work on the new stadium development can be completed as fast as possible once a settlement is reached.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the club said: “Given the lengthy period of time taken to reach the CPO decision in the first place, we should like to advise supporters that it is highly unlikely we shall be able to open the new stadium at the start of the 2017/2018 season.
“The club has revised its construction programme in order to take the shortest possible time to construct. This now therefore involves the club moving away from the Lane during construction for a period of one season, to start at the beginning of a season in order to comply with Premier League rules. We are currently undertaking due diligence on alternative stadium options.”
It continued: “Consideration needs to be given to several factors, including planning and policing and, importantly, our fans and the impact it may have on the Team itself. Clearly all possible options have pros and cons and we are aware that we shall not be able to find one which will please all parties. We shall however seek to find the optimum solution for the club and our supporters and we shall be sharing our deliberations with our supporters at an appropriate time.”
The club said it is hoping for “the earliest possible date” for the High Court hearing.
Tottenham MP David Lammy said: “While it is of course frustrating for many that this project will experience yet more delays, it is important that individuals and businesses are able to exercise their right appeal. It is essential that due process is observed as these key decisions are made.”
Archway Sheet Metal were unavailable for comment.