New deal is triumph for local campaigner Virginia Ironside
Hammersmith and Fulham Council has announced an agreement for building a publicly-owned community sports facility in Hammersmith Park.
The revised plan will include a ten-pitch small sided centre, club house with changing facilities, a new café and toilets and a large number of cycle racks.
Work has already begun at the Shepherd's Bush park, with the facility expected to open around mid-February next year.
A previous scheme, signed in March 2014, was for a long-term lease and planning permission to build all-weather sport facilities, bar and a car park.
However, residents raised concerns about the scale of the scheme and the loss of potential community use, as the site would be operated by a private company.
The current council administration, entered into discussions with H&F, residents and other interested parties to address these concerns.
" We have worked hard alongside residents to secure a much improved deal, which we are confident we now have," says Cllr Guy Vincent, H&F Council's Lead Member for Contracts.
"Contracts had already been signed in March 2014 so we were unable to cancel the scheme altogether, so we believe this is the best outcome possible.
" As well as a less intrusive and more beneficial scheme, the new plan involves much wider availability to local schools and residents, earlier closing times and the facility remaining under the ownership of the council."
The private company has agreed with the council a seven year management contract of the sports centre in place of the previous 35 year lease.
As part of the new deal, the council has negotiated free access for local residents with low incomes, a limited parking area and reduced operating hours.
The deal is a triumph for local resident, writer and journalist Virginia Ironside who has campaigned for changes to the original plans.
Describing the result as ‘absolutely brilliant’, Loftus Road resident Virginia says: " It really is a case of the council working really hard with the community - without both the community and the council nothing would have happened.
"We’re just so lucky the council came in at that moment or the park could have been virtually given away to a private company.
" The whole park is now back in the hands of the council, and therefore the people for whom it was intended in the first place so we couldn’t be more pleased."
Virginia, who is currently touring the country, including appearances on October 25 and November 1 at the St James Theatre in Victoria, with a show called Growing Old Disgracefully, adds: " It has been a marvellous success story."
Local people have given the news a thumbs up and congratrulated Virginia on council's website. Their feelings were summed up by Chippindale who said: " Hooray for good sense and Virginia''s dogged persistence!"
Future plans also include re-installation and upgrade of the tennis courts, playground and outdoor gym.