Council Approve Plans to Redevelop Hammersmith Park

But controversy remains over lease of park to private company

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 Hammersmith and Fulham Council has approved controversial plans by Sports and Leisure Group to redevelop Hammersmith Park in South Africa Road in Shepherd's Bush.

Permission has been granted for:

Demolition of existing bowling pavilion, changing rooms, storage building and porta-cabin; Creation of an all-weather football facility comprising of 2no. seven-a-side pitches, 11no. five-a-side pitches and a two-on-two basketball training court to replace an existing all weather pitch, tennis and basketball courts, bowling green and disused playground; Erection of a single storey pavilion containing a bar, community multi-use room, changing rooms and office; Fencing around and within the site; Lighting columns; Hard and soft landscaping; Associated car parking providing 20no. spaces. 

Work on the £2.2 million scheme is expected to begin soon, with the soccer centre in place by spring 2014.

The redevelopment plan has already come under fire from Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors as it meant the council agreeing to lease part of Hammersmith Park to private company Sports and Leisure Group Ltd for the next 35 years.

As the application shows, the deal means the park will have 13 Astroturf football pitches - but only two of these will be free to use. Anyone using the other pitches will have hire them from the company for an as yet undisclosed fee.

Last month, Cllr Cowan accused the council of deliberately keeping local residents in the dark about the deal.

And he said: " Leasing it rather than selling it was a ruse that meant that H&F's Conservative Administration did not have to seek permission from the Secretary of State which is what is meant to happen when councils dispose of public parks.

" Community facilities like parks, hospitals, village halls  and libraries have all been given to us by previous generations of people who campaigned for them to exist. A council has a duty to be a good custodian of those often vital community facilities."

The council says the proposed multi-million pound football centre will help revive a run-down part of the White City park, with the Sports and Leisure Group Ltd, operating as PlayFootball, replacing the dilapidated all-weather pitch currently at the park, which has fallen into disrepair, along with the vandalised changing rooms. The bowling green, which has not been used since May 2011, and underused tennis courts will be removed.

The council says PlayFootball has committed to providing free community use for the full length of its 35-year contract to run the site, and is giving residents free access to two of the football pitches and a new basketball court, at any time, as part of the planning agreement.

The rest of the pitches will be available to hire by the hour, with some discounts for local groups and schools.

A single storey clubhouse pavilion, with a bar, changing rooms, an office and multi-use room, and car park will also be built, while fencing and lighting around this site will also be replaced and updated. The pavilion will be open to everyone during the park’s opening hours (from 8:30am) and PlayFootball will provide funding for replacement trees to compensate for any trees which need to be removed.

Cllr Greg Smith, H&F Council’s Deputy Leader, says: " Residents have been asking us to upgrade the all-weather pitch for several years and we are sure that they will be delighted with the new complex once it is completed.

" We think this is a great deal for the community, local school children and the local economy – not only will these new and much needed sports facilities be built at no cost to the taxpayer, but they will also breathe new life into the park and the area."

 

September 26, 2013