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Brent Council planning committee votes unanimously for Wembley Stadium pedway to be replaced with steps after 44 years

PUBLISHED: 11:21 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:05 17 September 2018

Image of how the new steps leading up to Wembley Stadium will look (Picture: Quintain)

Image of how the new steps leading up to Wembley Stadium will look (Picture: Quintain)

Archant

The ramp that has led crowds up to Wembley Stadium for 44 years is to be demolished and replaced with steps.

Olympic Way leading to Wembley Stadium (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)Olympic Way leading to Wembley Stadium (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Brent Council’s planning committee voted unanimously in favour of property giant Quintain’s application to “enhance” Wembley Park last night despite overwhelming opposition.

Sixteen channels divided by handrails and walls with 48 steps will take people from Olympic Way to the top.

These will be separated into four flights of 12 steps with landing levels between them.

Quintain’s head of masterplanning and design Julian Tollast told the meeting: “If Wembley Park was only about going to and from the stadium then the pedway has done the job for the last 44 years.

Wembley Park after football games and concerts (Picture: Martin Francis)Wembley Park after football games and concerts (Picture: Martin Francis)

“But Wembley Park, the whole ethos of the masterplan and the council’s ambition is about wider everyday life and at the moment it does create a visual severance from the Civic Centre to the park.”

The pedway was built in 1974 to facilitate pedestrian access to the old stadium over a coach park that no longer exists.

Quintain lodged an application to build new steps to replace the two ramps in 2007 when the new stadium was built, saying it would be “one of the largest pieces of privately funded public space in the UK”.

Brent Council agreed last year to gift the company £17.8m of public levy money to help pay for it and other “improvements” to the public realm.

Objector Kenneth Koranteng, of Elm Gardens, said: “The most important issues in my view should be public safety and convenience with respect to mass evacuation and safe and speedy crowd dispersal from the stadium.

“The artist’s illustration shows a dozen characters on a leisurely stroll whereas the actual scenario to be envisaged would be hundreds and thousands of users.”

He added that “not all football crowds behave the same” and after concerts the crowd would include “a fairly sizeable constituency of inebriated persons who may not be sober to comply with dispersal instructions”.

He also said local people were not consulted.

Brett Harbutt, head of planning for Quintain, said replacing the pedway was “fundamental” to the transformation of Olympic way. He said the steps “meet the safety standards” and “provide safe, efficient and effective access to the stadium”.

He said four lifts could take 27 people standing, “or less” if there were the maximum number of three wheelchairs in each.

Escalators were ruled out because “they break down easily”.

He also said residential group representatives were consulted as well as organisations such as “Mencap, the FA (Football Association) and stakeholders”.

Cllr Michael Maurice (Con) said: “Quite a lot of people don’t want it to go ahead because of the way it has been funded and other things but these are not material planning considerations.”

All eight councillors on the committee gave the green light.

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