When planning began to move to a new stadium in 1999, Arsenal wanted to remain in Islington, the home of the Club since 1913, and in the process do much more for the local area than simply build the Club a new home.
Emirates Stadium was the obvious focal point of Arsenal Football Club’s move but it was also the catalyst for substantial regeneration in the area and a host of other projects.
Included within the £390 million redevelopment programme was major inward investment into an area which suffered from serious deprivation and had seen little investment in recent years.
The regeneration of over 60 acres of land within the Borough is still taking place and has been the medium for significant urban regeneration in and around Islington.
Arsenal in the Community’s programme intensified on moving to the new stadium with an investment of over £1.8million from the Highbury section 106. The department’s consistent engagement with young people via its social inclusion projects have also been the catalyst for the regeneration of pitches around the Borough.
As one of the largest regeneration schemes in Europe, the Emirates Stadium project provided enormous benefits to the local community which included the creation of over 2,600 new jobs through the development, which included more than 1,800 long-term positions.
As part of the project, the removal of economically inefficient industrial and waste management buildings were replaced with a brand new £60 million state-of-the-art Waste Recycling Centre which has contributed towards the increase of Islington’s recycling rates. The centre also services the boroughs of Camden, Hackney and Haringey. Since its opening in 2004, an award-winning interactive education centre in partnership with the Science Museum has been created.
Affordable housing formed a huge part of the regeneration programme and 2,500 new and refurbished homes, of which 40 per cent are classified as affordable housing, as well as substantial key worker housing was also created.
Additional benefits included significant investment in local businesses, new areas of public space, making the streets safer for local residents and pedestrians, investment into the transport network and pathways to employment through construction. Funds were also made available to local communities through schemes such as the Gunners Community Fund, which assisted small schemes such as local nurseries and neighborhood watch schemes and the Arsenal FC Community Benefit Fund which has awarded over £500,000 to local community groups for projects and activities which address the needs of disadvantaged communities within Holloway and Highbury.
The Arsenal Learning Centre was also been built for the local community in the Northern Triangle Building on Emirates Stadium podium, offering a vast range of different courses for all ages.
Youngsters on the Arsenal Kickz and Positive Futures Schemes have also benefitted from regeneration in the Borough. Thanks to investment from partners, Homes for Islington, Islington Council, Arsenal in the Community and former Arsenal player, Dennis Bergkamp there has been significant upgrade to pitches in local parks and on estates where Arsenal in the Community’s social inclusion projects take place.
New areas of public open space have been generated, including a new park at Lough Road West, at Lough Road East, the Gillespie Park extension, as well as the Podium around Emirates Stadium itself.
A study commissioned by the LDA and carried out by KPMG evaluated that the stadium project yields £35 million worth of community benefits.
Local Business benefits
Local business has already felt the benefit of the redevelopment works, with £2.2 million of supply and construction contracts surrounding the project being awarded to local companies. It is also estimated that another £202,000 has been spent by contractors on goods and services. And this growth is not expected to stop when construction work on all of the associated projects is completed. The 4,500 new residents in the area will begin to use local shops and services.
Use of public transport to Highbury was the best in the Premier League with 70 per cent of fans arriving by means other than private cars, and this has been successfully continued and surpassed at Emirates Stadium. However, further improvements include over £7.5 million investment and managing the existing capacity of the underground stations better than at present. TfL has also provided funding of over £50 million, which will offer improvements to bus, road, cycle and pedestrian facilities, as well as the major redevelopment of Finsbury Park Station. Local improvements, helped by Arsenal funding include surface finishes, street furniture, landscaping, lighting and signage all reflecting the needs of disabled people.