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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 11:34 GMT
Fulham stadium boost
Fulham's plans for Craven Cottage include a riverside cafe
Fulham have ambitious plans for Craven Cottage
Fulham have been given the go-ahead for the 70m redevelopment of their Craven Cottage ground.

The west London club, backed by millionaire Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, was given the green light in the High Court to improve their stadium on the banks of the River Thames.

A new stadium is vital for our future
Jean Tigana

Fulham said they were "extremely pleased" by Mr Justice Collins' decision to dismiss the appeal by 11 local residents, asking for the Secretary of State to personally determine the club's planning application.

Fulham will now finalise plans to ground-share at QPR's Loftus Road next season while the capacity at their own stadium is raised from 20,787 to 30,000.

When both Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council and the Goverment gave the go-ahead for the project, Fulham chairman Mohamed Al Fayed described it as "a momentous day".

But a small group of local residents did not share Al Fayed's enthusiasm.

The residents had been pushing for a public inquiry, which could have delayed the start of building by a year.

The so-called 'Fulham Alliance' said the issues surrounding the proposed improvements to the 105-year-old stadium were "too important" to be ruled on by the local council.

Lawyers for the residents said the new ground will have a "damaging and massively intrusive effect".

And they accused Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, former Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions, of acting "unreasonably and unlawfully".

Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed will anxiously await the court's verdict
Craven Cottage's redevelopment will cost Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed
But the 17-page judgement said the decision-makers had regard "to the relevant issues" and were "compliant and fair."

A three-day judicial review examined the issues in November but Fulham have had to wait until now for the final decision.

Fulham still have to move out of Craven Cottage at the end of this season.

Following promotion to the First Division in 1999, Fulham were given three years to demolish their terraces and develop an all-seater stadium.

But the redevelopment of Craven Cottage is vital to Fulham's future.

That point is not lost on manager Jean Tigana, who has identified the link between what happens off the field and his chances of taking Fulham forward on it.

Tigana told the club's website: "Great facilities are part of my vision for Fulham, and a new stadium is vital for our future.

"I want my Fulham club to attract the best players and to play in Europe.

"A new stadium is important for both of these."

Chairman of Fulham residents association Bill Adlard
"We are considering whether to launch an appeal"
See also:

14 Apr 01 |  Fulham
Fulham granted stadium approval
29 Oct 01 |  Fulham
Fulham eye London switch
Links to more Fulham stories are at the foot of the page.


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