AN AMBITIOUS £200 million scheme to link a space-age monorail along the A4 with a luxury stadium complex that would provide a new home for troubled Brentford Football Club was unveiled earlier this week.

The VLRS system, as the monorail is known, would stretch from Hounslow's Western International Market to Brentford's Lionel Road, where a new 25,000 capacity stadium for the football club would be built adjacent to Kew Bridge railway station, as part of a luxury complex including a 100,000sq ft hotel, similar sized office and residential units, accompanied with a cinema, health club and banqueting/conference facilities.

The plans were unveiled at the football club's doomed present site Griffin Park on Wednesday by a partnership of Bees United, the club's supporters trust, monorail experts Amersham Group and the Millhouse development group.

Hounslow Council is looking into the monorail as an alternative to the A4 Fast Lane tram scheme, which had been planned to run from Heathrow to Hammersmith, but has, according to council leader John Chatt, now been jettisoned following the approval of the Uxbridge road tram.

He added the council was hoping to discuss the possibility of neighbouring authorities taking up the monorail idea that would see it run a similar length.

Problematically, the proposed development site for the stadium belongs to the Strategic Rail Authority, who have promised it to another buyer, the identity of which remains undisclosed - but supporters' trust Bees United and Hounslow Council say they are hopeful that the Strategic Rail Authority can be persuaded into rethinking the sale.

John McGlashan, chairman of Bees United, has also said the trust is pushing for a compulsory purchase order over the land, and MP for Brentford and Isleworth, Ann Keen is searching an urgent meeting with the SRA over the land.

The monorail would offer a cheaper alternative to the tram, at a cost of between £7-8million per km, as opposed to the £17-22million per km for the tram, said developers Amersham group, who are working with Millhouse Development group and the supporters' trust on the scheme.

It would be built on six-metre high elevations that would not compress the existing road space as much, and could be built quickly, causing minimum disruption whilst still being reasonably elegant'' cosmetically, said Amersham.

The scheme, which would link up the car park at Western International Market to the Piccadilly line at Osterley station and the main line to Waterloo at Kew Bridge, is hoped to solve the same transport problems as the tram.

But developers say the football club, along with the luxury facilities, would help boost weekend traffic on the monorail.

The stadium will also house an as yet undisclosed rugby club, though both the London Broncos and a rugby union club have been rumoured to be interested in the scheme.

The partnership was keen to stress at Wednesday's launch of the scheme that the plan was still in its early stages, subject to substantial environmental, engineering, financial and passenger demand studies''.

While the plan would be privately funded, supported with equity from the football club, it still requires planning consent - which would depend on discussions with English Heritage, English Nature, the Highways Agency and possibly even the MoD before going to the secretary of state for approval. It would also need approval from TfL.

A detailed planning application for Griffin Park, which was granted outline permission last week, will be put forward in parallel'' with an application for the new stadium and for the new transport scheme. The development partnership claim the scheme could be deliverable in three years - the amount of time the football club say they can survive at Griffin Park.

While Ron Noades, the club's chairman , remains angry about planning conditions put on Griffin Park, the council has suggested that these are negotiable'' if tied to the current scheme.

November 8, 2002 10:30