Regional giant offers pro bono advice on Midlands bid for national football stadium
Eversheds has agreed to work for free on Birming-ham's high-profile bid to replace Wembley as home to England's national football stadium. Eversheds was appointed by a bidding consortium comprising Birmingham City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and the NEC Group. Their bid is seen as a frontrunner alongside two alternative schemes for Wembley. Coventry is also making a bid to take on the project. Eversheds Birmingham property head Tim Webb said: "We've been appointed to advise on strategic planning and site assembly for the Birmingham national stadium. "We'll be working pro bono until we hear that the bid is successful. After that we will charge accordingly."
"This is so wound up in the psyche of the British public. It seems so obvious for it to come to the Midlands that anything we can do to help seems worthwhile" Tim Webb, Eversheds
A decision on the rival proposals is expected within the next two weeks, and if Birmingham is still in the running at that stage, the Birmingham consortium will submit a planning application in October. Webb said the decision for Eversheds to do the work pro bono was agreed mutually. "The project is speculative on the part of the consortium and we're showing our commitment to the project until they hear the news on the scheme," said Webb. "We're sharing the risk as a partner with them in the scheme. "This is so wound up in the psyche of the British public. It seems so obvious for it to come to the Mid-lands that anything we can do to help and support the project and bring it home seems worthwhile." The £324m scheme for an 85,000-seater stadium, which would include the acquisition of a 190-acre site, is far cheaper than the original £700m Wembley project and other alternatives for the Wembley site. But the Birmingham scheme is also controversial, since it would eat into greenbelt land which lies between Birmingham and Coventry. "The application is expected to be called in and fast-tracked by the Secretary of State for Local Government, Transport and the Regions," said Webb. "A public inquiry will then be heard." The appointment to work on the stadium project followed swiftly on the back of Eversheds' hire of a key planning lawyer from Birmingham City Council. Gerry Sheedy was previously head of the highways and planning legal team. Sheedy is working closely with Eversheds' national head of planning Rod Bull on the national stadium scheme. Webb is leading on the property side. "Gerry's reputation in the public sector certainly helped to get the stadium appointment, and Rod's leading reputation on a national basis was critical. The appointment is also a reflection of Eversheds' standing in the business community," noted Webb.