A state-of-the-art sports facility providing new educational and career opportunities for Barnet residents and Middlesex University students has moved a step closer, with Saracens Copthall LLP and the University signing a new deal for use of the planned new West Stand at Allianz Park in Copthall.
Artist impression of the new West Stand
Middlesex University has committed to increasing their use of the space in the stand making it the new base for the London Sports Institute and School of Health & Education Departments, and in doing so strengthening the business plan for the development of the West Stand.
Middlesex University have worked closely with the stadium architects to redesign the interior of the new stand, creating space for new facilities to help create a Centre of Excellence for the London Sports Institute, with opportunities for students to work with and alongside elite athletes. New state-of-the-art facilities for the School of Health & Education will help the university develop its simulation-based training, enhance the student experience, and deliver better-trained practitioners, many of whom will work in London and the local area.
The new stand will also include a cutting-edge media centre to be used as a ‘Learning Zone’ outside of match days. The charitable Saracens Foundation will work with the council and other partners to use the facility to inspire and support young people and others who are struggling with mainstream education, or who are seeking to develop themselves personally to improve employment opportunities. This will build on Saracens’ work to launch the Saracens High School in September 2018, which is now providing excellent educational opportunities within the Grahame Park Estate in Colindale.
Barnet Council has helped facilitate taking the project to this new phase, releasing around £700,000 of loan funding in August, as part of a 2019 agreement to lend £22.9million for the development of the West Stand. The council agreed to release the money having reviewed the revised business plan for the project, and undertaken due diligence. Further tranches will be released as confidence grows in the evolving business plan.
James Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer at Middlesex University, said: “Middlesex University is excited to be part of this innovative venture with Barnet Council and Saracens Copthall LLP. It is a very important development for Middlesex University and will support our efforts to become a stronger part of our community.
“We are particularly pleased that the new stand development will include creation of a community garden. As well as improving biodiversity, it will be a place to support vulnerable people, including adults with learning disabilities, those with poor mental health, and older people.”
Gordon Banks, Chief Community Officer for Saracens, said: “We’re committed to making a positive contribution to our local community, through the Saracens Foundation and the Saracens Multi-Academy Trust. The facilities in the new West Stand and our collaboration with Middlesex University and Barnet Council will help us build upon the stadium’s role as a thriving community hub and enable us to have a positive impact on the lives of even more local people. A great example of partnership working really paying off!”
Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Dan Thomas, said: “We are working with our partners at Saracens and Middlesex University to build a better Barnet that benefits all. This major development will support not only Middlesex University students studying for a career in the sports and health industries, but also young people struggling with education and vulnerable adults across our borough. The loan is a great way for us to invest in our community by working with local partners, and I’m delighted that we have been able support out partners in this step towards making the plans a reality.”
- In January 2019 the council agreed a £23m loan to Saracens Copthall LLP for construction of a new West Stand at Allianz Park
- Loan drawdowns were suspended at the beginning of the year to allow Saracens Copthall LLP to rework its business plan in light of Saracens, one of the stadium’s tenants, relegation from the Gallagher Premiership
- £3.2m had been drawn down from the Loan before drawdowns were suspended
- The council has received a revised business plan from Saracens Copthall LLP, and undertaken due diligence.An update will be provided to the next meeting of the Council’s Financial Performance and Contracts Committee.
- Due diligence was carried out by Grant Thornton and completed in August 2020.
- Decision on the commitment to main contracts will be taken in early 2021.