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Surrey Canal developer Renewal hits back at Millwall over land claim
A DEVELOPER has hit back at Millwall as the row over land around The Den intensifies.
The club claimed this month it was "appalled and bewildered" over Lewisham Council's decision to sell three plots of land around Millwall's ground to developer Renewal as part of the Surrey Canal project.
But Renewal have insisted that the club - which had its own development plans for the sites and claims it was locked out of discussions - was made aware on several occasions that the sale of the land was being bought forward.
And it is claimed that, despite continued requests from the council to meet the club, there was only one face-to-face meeting on August 15, "when the club failed to provide any meaningful detailed evidence of its proposals."
Renewal said the club failed to send any representative to a September mayor and cabinet meeting to discuss the sale and then threatened to take legal action in October and December.
Despite this, the sale took place last December - and Renewal says the council has received only one piece of correspondence from the club since.
Finally, Renewal says there is almost no development planned on the transferred land, insisting the community scheme is not under threat and the future of the stadium is secure - potentially being expanded and re-clad under the current planning permission.
Renewal director Jordana Malik said: "We are perplexed as to why those in charge at the club are claiming they have had no knowledge of the land sale when there has been lengthy correspondence on this very
subject throughout 2013, between the club and the council, and the decision to sell the land was taken at a public Council meeting in September.
"It has taken 10 years of continued investment and hard work to bring the regeneration plans to this point – we have a consent and building work can start next year.
"In all that time the club has not submitted a single planning application, nor bought a single piece of land and never presented a single business plan for development to Lewisham Council, despite having been asked to do so on several occasions.
"The council sold the freehold to Renewal after lengthy negotiations and multiple communications with the club, precisely because only Renewal is able to fund and deliver the entire regeneration.
"It is not for the council to subsidise the losses of a football club or its owner."
Meanwhile, Lewisham Council has defended itself against claims it is too close to the developer. The council said in a statement: "During our discussions partners have attended meetings and been copied in to relevant correspondence.
"We have been open and transparent in our negotiations with all partners and the final decision to sell the land to Renewal was taken by the deputy Mayor and other cabinet members at a public meeting on September 11. No decision has been made behind closed doors."