EXCLUSIVE: Redevelopment around Millwall ground The Den could move massive step closer in days

Town hall chiefs still have a deal to sell Millwall land to a developer – and the football club will pull out of talks unless the contract is torn up.
But we can exclusively reveal that Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan may do just that, and make an announcement shortly.
The Lions board, who have been in constructive talks with Mr Egan for more than 12 months, had told him the sale threat was making negotiations impossible.
The Den chairman John Berylson has written to Mr Egan, insisting the danger to the club was intolerable, revealing its significance in the programme for this Sunday’s massive home FA Cup quarter-final tie against Brighton.
Lewisham’s contract to sell three pockets of land around the club’s stadium to developers Renewal was signed in December 2012 – and has still not been cancelled.
That is despite the fact there was a clause in the deal which allowed town hall officers to terminate it after five years – so 15 months ago.
Other tenants are also under threat, such as the Millwall Community Trust and the Millwall Cafe, as well as a string of smaller businesses.
When the Lions refused to sell five years ago, Lewisham and then mayor Sir Steve Bullock, who stood down in May last year, instead decided to attempt to seize the land, valued at 10s of millions of pounds, from Millwall using a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
The CPO was scrapped two years ago, amid controversy over Renewal’s bid to build a £40million leisure centre, Energise, as part of a £1billion, 2,400-home redevelopment of the area called New Bermondsey (NB).
But the land sale agreement has remained in place through almost a year of talks involving Mr Egan – Sir Steve’s successor – Millwall and Renewal.
And Mr Berylson now says he cannot spend up to £1million – about the amount it cost to bring in then-record signing Tom Bradshaw in the summer – just on drawing up a full scheme, and leading it through the tortuous planning process, without Mr Egan scrapping the sell-off contract.
He wants to be a part of the NB plans so the club can use income from the flats and
businesses to futureproof the financial planning of the club, which has consistently lost millions every year for more than 20 years.
The club also appointed architects AFL to draw up the club’s own scheme after the Premier League insisted millions need to be spent to upgrade the stadium if the Lions reach the top flight.
Mr Berylson says in his programme notes to fans this Sunday: “Until the sale agreement has been lifted by the council and/or Renewal, we find ourselves faced with potentially very significant expenditure to get planning permission on land which is technically promised to another party.
“No wise board of directors could responsibly endorse such expenditure. So we are asking our council and Renewal to remove this obstacle, which will demonstrate that we are true partners in these plans and are not wasting the club’s time and its owners’ money.
“At the same time, we are also asking the council to incorporate appropriate revisions to our leases to ensure that the developments we are planning are permitted and can be approved.
“We worked closely and constructively with the council and Renewal as our plans evolved. Our planning and design team participated in workshops to ensure that our designs for the Millwall land would be harmonious with the scheme that Renewal has been developing for the rest of the New Bermondsey site.
“Millwall’s board of directors has approved considerable expenditure to achieve this progress because we retain a vision for the new community that can be created here with our football club at its heart.
“We have always been fans of the regeneration of this area and to play our part, we need to be properly involved – not just spectators on the touchline.”
A Lewisham council spokeswoman said: “The council has received a request from Millwall FC to remove the conditional land sale agreement (CLSA).
“We are very encouraged by the joint work that is now taking place between the club, Renewal and council officers. This work includes an objective to remove the CLSA. We are giving careful consideration to the current request for an early withdrawal of the CLSA and we are in active dialogue with the club and Renewal. An announcement will be made in due course.”

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