QPR chief executive Lee Hoos admits he’s hugely relieved to finally see construction vehicles on site at the club’s long-awaited new training facility in Heston.
Last Friday saw work begin on levelling the area that will see seven new pitches laid with the full completion of the state-of-the art complex expected by the start of the 2023/24 season.
Hoos, who revealed shortly after his arrival in 2015 that his main goal was to secure a move from the site Rangers have rented from Imperial College in Harlington since 2005, said the club can now finally move forward following almost a decade of frustration borne out of the failed quest to build on the Warren Farm site in Ealing.
The club had identified Warren Farm as their preferred destination for a training ground in January 2012 and planning permission was granted by Ealing Council only for the club to scale down their initial plans in 2014 following objections from local residents.
However, work never ever got started despite a series of failed legal challenges over the council’s decision from the Save Warren Farm campaign and the Hanwell Nature Group.
The objectors did secure a further judicial review into Ealing’s commitment to grant the land to QPR leading to the club subsequently giving up on the project after becoming aware the Concorde Club site in Heston had become available last year.
With the freehold on the land secured in December 2020 and planning permission given the green light last month, Hoos said he’s delighted to finally see some light at what has been a very long tunnel.
“I thought when I first come in that the plan looked fairly well progressed and that it shouldn’t take longer than a few months to get over the line,” Hoos said.
“But obviously it then took on a life of its own with the various things that come out of that, but we finally got there in the end.
“We own the freehold and have got the permission to do the work that needs to be done to implement the project we want to.
“The stadium is where the players come once a fortnight, the training ground is their place of work and the finished product that is a player is developed at the training ground.”
Hoos said the work on the pitches is the most important thing to get right, with the first team often seeing sessions disrupted at Harlington due to frost in the winter or heavy rainfall with at least two of the new pitches to boast undersoil heating.
The club have spent money on an elite-level surface on the main training pitch, but were reluctant to do splash out on a facility they were renting and could be forced to leave at some stage.
“If you speak to anyone in football they will say ‘give me the pitches first, I’ll work in portakabins if I have to, but the pitches have to be first class’,” Hoos said.
“That is the first thing we have got cracking on, to get them growing ASAP.
“It will be three pitches for the first team and four for the academy … and then work will begin on a first-class gym, prehab and rehab facilities.
“I’ve always taken the view that there is no sense is bringing in lots of players if they are always injured as they are just assets sat in the stands.
“So I will never shave money off the sports science budget because that allows you to keep a smaller squad and because of this the prehab and rehab areas will be so critical to what we can do as a club.
“Then there will be the analysis rooms and a nice dining area for the players where they can bond and promote a togetherness of the senior players and the younger academy players being on the same site.
“Once it is all completed it will be a great facility which is a massive step up in quality from what we have now, it’s almost worth building just for the pitches alone.”