The Richard Rogers Partnership has been asked to masterplan the area around Foster and Partners' new Wembley stadium, the aj has learned.
rrp's appointment has been kept secret but a spokesman admitted this week, 'we have been asked by a client to carry out a feasibility study,' and confirmed that rrp architects are working on the contentious area around the £475 million stadium.
The news comes days before Brent council was due to make a decision - now postponed - on whether to award planning permission to the new stadium. In recent weeks the environs of the stadium and transport facilities have been the major stumbling blocks to planning permission.
Brent has already signalled that it will not grant planning permission unless Wembley finds £30 million to pay for expansion of Wembley Park tube station and improvement of other local facilities such as parking. On Monday, as rrp's role emerged, Brent council officials met stadium bosses to demand the cash under the controversial Section 106 rule which allows planners to insist that developers make extra financial provisions as a condition of planning permission. Brent wants to double the capacity of Wembley Park, with London Underground meeting three-quarters of the £80 million cost and Wembley providing the remaining £20 million.
The government's Wembley Task Force meanwhile, established to oversee the project, pledged last year to adopt many of the principles contained in Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force Report. A project of this kind would be the ideal opportunity for rrp to put some of those principles into practice. The Wembley Task Force, which is trying to broker a deal between Wembley National Stadium Ltd and Brent, welcomed the news that Lord Rogers has entered the fray.
'A masterplan is something that we want to happen very much and if it were of the calibre of the Richard Rogers Partnership, we'd welcome it,' said acting chief executive Tony Winterbottom.
But mystery surrounds the identity of RRP's client. aj enquiries revealed the Wembley Taskforce has not approached rrp - and neither has Brent council.
Both the department for Culture, Media and Sport and the department for Environment, Transport and the Regions have also been ruled out by Winterbottom. 'It would have to be the private sector,' he said.