It’s almost 18 months since West London Sport revealed that Warren Farm was QPR’s preferred choice for a new training ground.
Next week the club are expected to get the green light to begin redeveloping the site. Here’s a guide to how things stand at the moment.
What is Warren Farm?
The Warren Farm sports centre is on Windmill Lane, Southall, fairly near Osterley Park, and is the biggest sports ground in the borough of Ealing but has been in a state of disrepair for some time.
Ealing Council selected Rangers as its partner to redevelop the facility in the spring of last year and the club submitted a planning application in December.
Why the delay?
There hasn’t actually been a substantial delay. A process like this can take considerable time. Whether it be in bringing in the right CMMS system to help keep on top of the maintenance requests, or in converting the space to our uses, there is a lot to consider and sort before work can fully begin. QPR’s stance has also been that they would prefer to address any issues at the start of the project rather than further down the line.
However, a number of objections were raised by residents and community groups during the council’s required period of public consultation.
What kind of objections?
It has been claimed that the council is effectively ‘gifting’ the site to QPR rather than selling it for a profit.
There have also been doubts over Rangers’ assurances that the new facility will be more than just a training ground and will be available for substantial community use.
And there were significant concerns expressed about the structure of the proposed new site and the layout of the surrounding area, not to mention the potential noise.
What has been QPR’s response to this?
From the start, Rangers have been adamant that the award-winning QPR In The Community Trust will take a leading role in ensuring that Warren Farm provides significant benefit to the local community.
Furthermore, last month the club submitted revised plans to the council in response to local concerns.
What changes were made?
The proposed height of the indoor centre has been reduced by 1.2 metres and the planned location of floodlights has been moved to try to reduce their impact.
The number of proposed car parking spaces for the new site was reduced from 712 to 555. Plans also now include a new pedestrian crossing on Windmill Lane and improved cycle routes.
In response to objections about potential noise, plans now include operating hours.
Who will pay for Warren Farm?
QPR will be responsible for building, maintaining and operating the new facility at no extra cost to the council or taxpayers.
Why does the council want QPR to take over the site? Why don’t they just sell it off?
In response to criticism over this issue, both parties point out that, at a time of budgetary cuts, other councils are closing similar facilities.
In 2011, Ealing Council identified the need for external investment in order to revamp Warren Farm, so set about finding an appropriate partner.
QPR, who want a training facility to meet Premier League and academy standards, and currently have a vibrant community trust, are therefore seen as an obvious choice.
What facilities will be at Warren Farm?
QPR’s proposals include some distinction between club facilities and those for community use.
The club will have a state-of-the-art training centre, including three pitches for senior players and six for academy players. There will be an indoor and outdoor artificial pitch, one show pitch and floodlighting.
There will also be an area accommodating players and staff that will be far superior to the building at Rangers’ current training ground in Harlington.
For community use, there will be up to 11 football pitches, three cricket wickets, changing rooms, brand new meeting and social areas and multi-function rooms. There will also be access to both the indoor and outdoor artificial pitches and car parking. All of these would be available at a charge set by the council.
Most importantly, the club, led by the QPR In The Community Trust, say they are dedicated to ensuring that Warren Farm becomes a hub for community sport and participation rather than simply a training ground.
What happens now?
The council are due to consider the revised submission at a planning committee meeting next Wednesday, 24 April, and are expected to approve the plans.
QPR intend to begin building on the site this autumn and open the new facility towards the end of 2015.