Public inquiry inevitable unless developer and Brent council sort out row over £30m payment.
Construction of the new Wembley stadium is set to be delayed a year because the developer has renewed its threat to take Brent council to a public inquiry.

The trigger for the latest collapse in talks was the refusal by planners to recommend the scheme unless the developer contributes £30m to neighbourhood development as part of a Section 106 agreement. Wembley National Stadium chief executive Bob Stubbs said: "Brent council regards this £30m as a development tax and doesn't feel it has to justify it. We've told the council it is not justified, we cannot pay it, and we'll see them at the appeal."

Stubbs had threatened to take Brent to a public inquiry last month but backed down while negotiations with officials were still going on.

Brent council this week insisted that Wembley National Stadium pay the money, which it claims is needed for improving transport and pedestrian infrastructure around the stadium. The money would be used to improve facilities at Wembley Park Tube Station and widen some of the access roads near the stadium.

Brent council spokesperson Pascoe Sawyers said: "We don't want another Hillsborough. The issue is about access and safety. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of all visitors to the stadium and our residents. We have to ensure that the infrastructure around the stadium is right." A leaked letter from the Metropolitan Police, which have been involved in discussions about the stadium, also raised concerns about the safety of people leaving it.

The letter, dated 1 February, from commander David Smith to Brent's planning office, states:

" … the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has serious concerns in relation to the egress of audiences where it could be realistically assumed that 70 000-plus people would be disgorged into the area around the stadium, which is hard pressed to cope now with smaller numbers."

It continues: "Only a major improvement in the area of Olympic Way would make this a safe exodus. The MPS has further concerns that there is likely to be a requirement for road closures around the stadium to facilitate audience egress on the grounds of safety.

"The MPS, in its submission, stated strongly that road closures should not take place and the life of the community should be disrupted as little as possible."

Stubbs said: "The job of the police is to manage congestion on the roads and infrastructure and if they can reduce their costs in doing that, they will. But applicants are not required to pay for existing problems. There is no justification in planning law for us to rectify existing problems; it is Brent's responsibility." Brent planning committee is scheduled to announce the result of the application on 25 April.

Sawyers said: "We will continue to negotiate with WNSL until the eleventh hour, but it must contribute to improving the infrastructure. We're keen to sort it out, but it is up to WNSL."

The delay would put the scheme's completion date back to 2004, although the stadium would still be ready for the World Cup in 2006 if England won