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Fulham FC ready to kick off £70m stadium development

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The £70 million demolition and redevelopment of Fulham Football Club's Craven Cottage stadium was given the green light by the government last week when John Prescott decided against calling the scheme in for review.

A timetable for work has not yet been devised, but the club must begin redevelopment soon because it has to have an all-seater stadium after next season to comply with safety rules.

Both the club and the local authority, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, have faced opposition from residents. But councillors hope design changes will placate them. Designed by Snell Associates, the stadium will have its concrete and steel appearance toned down by the addition of copper and brick cladding. The height of the stadium has also been reduced by one metre.

'The benefits of the proposals outweigh the adverse effects of the development, ' said the borough's mayor, councillor Andrew Slaughter.

Significant revisions have also been made to a residential tower block at one end of the ground.

Originally designed to accommodate more than 30 apartments, the block will now be just five storeys high and contain only 16 housing units.

The main stand and Craven Cottage, a Victorian reconstruction of a much older house, will be demolished to make way for the new stadium, which will increase capacity from 20,000 to 30,000.

'The quality of the architecture was one of the key ingredients which led us to approve it, ' said Nigel Pallace, assistant director of development at Hammersmith and Fulham. 'We had to insist on architecture of quality in order to justify the scale of the building and losing listed buildings.'

A planning application was first made in 1999, with a revised application submitted in March 2000.A further submission was made last autumn.

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