My first visit to Wembley stadium was to watch the FA Amateur Cup Final in the early 1960’s with my father, not long after we had moved to London from rural Durham. Since then, like millions of sports fans I have made many trips to the iconic national stadium alongside a number of visits in the late 60’s to watch professional tennis at the Wembley Arena.
In recent years I’ve returned to Wembley Park to learn more about the progress of the 85-acre mixed-use development being assembled by Quintain around the rebuilt stadium, which is now a hive of construction activity. The original twin towers at the entrance are now a part of history and a mightily impressive 133 metre high arch is the dominate feature in the local area skyline at the stadium.
The site was acquired back in 2002 with outline planning permission for 8.8 million sq ft of mixed-use development. Work began on the huge scheme back in 2005 and the historic Wembley SSE Arena was reopened in 2006 after renovations were concluded.
In the following years apartment blocks for sale were delivered alongside a 660-bedroom student accommodation development. Over half of the initial 525 homes were ‘affordable’. In 2012 a 4* Hilton hotel was opened and a number of public spaces of approximately six acres have been created to enhance visitor experience with more planned in the upcoming years..
There are currently four separate main contractors working on this £3bn scheme and it’s evident that the acquisition of Quintain by the US based Lone Star group has resulted in rapid construction progress being made at Wembley Park.
The size of the construction operation is fascinating to behold but since my last visit to the project it is evident that a large-scale, mixed-use community really is taking shape at Wembley Park, and from my experience it is quite unique. Alongside the stadium there is significant infrastructure already in place, which includes a shopping mall, hotels, a 9-screen cinema complex and an increasing number of food outlets and leisure facilities available for visitors and local residents.