Dec 11 2013

Bob Blackman MP Reaction to Whitchurch Playing Fields TVG Decision

bob_blackmanHarrow East Member of Parliament Bob Blackman has expressed his disappointment at Harrow Council Licensing committee rejecting the town and village green application on Tuesday evening.

Speaking following the meeting at which the decision was made, Bob Blackman commented: “While this decision is hardly a surprise, given the previous recommendation to reject the application by the planning inspector, this rejection is still comes as a disappointment. Making the fields into a town or village green would have solved the ongoing dilemma of what to do with the fields, while protecting the interest of local residents and the wider community.”

He continued: “This is by no means the end of the matter. As we discovered earlier this year, Whitchurch Playing Fields are registered as school playing fields, so to have this status changed, must have approval from the Minister of State for Schools. At present, this is David Laws MP, and I met Mr Laws earlier this week, along with other school and community representatives to talk about this with him. Following our very positive discussions, I am confident that Mr Laws will deploy his considerable judgement and wisdom in ensuring that the fields remain for the use of the school and the community, and not to be exploited by a consortium with no link to the area and even less interest in the concerns of hard working residents”

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  1. mikeOB

    I would like to know when was the last time Mr Blackman visited the playing fields. Is he aware the pitches are water logged most of the winter months and not that great in the summer either. Years of neglect and poor maintenance has deprived Harrow of a great asset. The old changing rooms are a health hazard and eyesore. My son who plays football there on the weekends has no proper facility to change and no toilets, it is an absolute disgrace! Mr Blackman these grounds have been deteriorating for years and nothing has been done and now you are trying to block the best chance to get the site regenerated. You are not representing all your constituents and will end up a one term MP!

    1. Stephen Lewis

      I am astounded at people’s naivety. Really, a group of housing developers from Wanstead are concerned that your son doesn’t have good changing facilities. May I point out that Mr Blackman was here just last week, so that answers that question and the only people who are responsible for providing facilities for the children of Harrow are the council. If they can’t be bothered why on earth would you think a group of businessmen, interested only in profit would be. I challenge each and every one of you to use the Internet and investigate The Consortium. Then thank Mr Blackman from the bottom of your heart

      1. mikeOB

        Mr Blackman has been MP for over three years and the council has changed four times since this process started, however there are still no good standard public football pitches in the borough, no Olympic legacy and no investment into sports facilities for the community. It is clear that government is not interested in spending money for sports and physical activity and if you think any money will be invested into this site by anyone other than a private organisation, then you are the one being naive Mr Lewis. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to do anything, much harder to come up with a longterm solution, seems like making excuses is all politician do nowadays.

        1. Melanie

          Actually it’s Mrs Lewis using her husband’s account because mine is frozen. So,when your son is older and looking to settle down and get married, will you advise him to wait for the right girl or just go for the cheapest option. First of all, check out Cirrus, Peverel Group and Runwood Homes. Then grow up a bit. No profit making organisation is going to adhere to any contract. The council can’t even get the Hive to do what’s right. I am fighting to make the Dept of Education and the council to do the right thing. It’s not for my children, they’ve grown up and left home. It’s so your child can use a decent sports facility, free of charge, for the next 100 years. How anyone can be so selfish to want anything other than the best for Harrow’s children is morally reprehensible and devoid of community spirit. Just because you’ve been fooled by the snake oil salesman, you won’t persuade the rest of us to sink to that level. We are a community and we care for each other. Try it sometime, you might like it

  2. Norton Bridge

    Mr Blackman you show your complete ignorance regarding what the proposals are for the playing fields and who is actually involved in developing the site. Have you spoken to any local teams or schools regarding what they want on the site? If you had bothered to do so, you would be aware, Harrow Boxing club, Harrow Hockey Club, St Joseph’s FC, Stanmore First Scouts Group, Stanmore College and Whitchurch First and Middle school are all involved and supporting the plans. The facilities planned can make this part of Harrow a sports and community hub, which is much needed in Harrow. In future please reply to your emails sent by the local sports teams and you will no longer embarrass yourself on public forums!

    1. Stephen Lewis

      Mr Bridge, did you see the BBC news at the weekend? There was a story about a security firm ripping off the elderly. The group is called Cirrus, a subsidiary of Peverel Group. Google them. Then Google Runwood Homes for the elderly and their owner. Then, if you still want to hand over the land for free, then you and I have a very different set of morals

    2. Resident and regular user of the fields

      There are some totally naive people around who really have not got all if indeed any of the facts in hand before commenting on this proposal on this forum.

      Who is to say that if this remained as a village green that there would be no changing facilities created, with toilets etc.? Why is there that assumption.

      Why do people think that this profit making consortium from outside of the borough will do anything different to what they have done elsewhere. History is a great pointer! Read up folks!

      Mr Bob Blackman is listening and because he is listening and visiting he is fully aware of the issues. He is supporting the residents of his constituency and with consideration this could be a win, win situation for EVERYONE…I only wish many more MPs would get involved in what truly matters on their doorsteps

      People mention that the fields are waterlogged…quite contrary to the council statements and witnesses in the local inquiry! …but what do you expect, it is a recognised flood plain…and Marsh lane isn’t called “Marsh” for nothing. We have had our homes flooded twice here and building more concrete structures whether they be actually buildings, for parking and/or an astro pitch will invariably make this worse…think on…what use then!!! Any new structures should be limited and it certainly cannot accommodate a mass area like an astro turf being created.

      The area itself cannot cope as it is, then with the news last Friday that The Hive literally less than 5 minutes walk (walking, remember that) up the road will now be a shared ground for rugby with the London Broncos from 2014, let alone other smaller clubs, so not let up at all for residents. So we both lose a valuable and rare green open space as well as reasonable tranquility at other times now too.

      There are so many pitches and daytime facilities and a floodlit astro pitch up there at The Hive…why the need for more…although it seems even Barnet football club are doing what suits them. You wait until they get promoted one year…you simply will not be able to move from Camrose Avenue through to Whitchurch Lane.

      If the clubs mentioned by others who have posted here want to continue their use, the ONLY and I repeat ONLY way that can be assured is for there to be no stranglehold by any third party organisation saying who can play on the fields and at what cost. The honeymoon period for those organistaions would soon be over and they have NO recourse whatsoever. You pay the new fee or not.

      Local clubs and organisations beware…others will be shipped in and you soon be just another on a list.

      This is a rare open space used by many, myself and family for over 30 years that should continue to be open for ALL to use and that not only includes ALL of the clubs mentioned and ALL of the local residents but also ALL of the schools who are currently using them on an unrestricted basis. If people care to look at the consortium proposals you will see that all schools and local organisations are totally limited in free use…so when they have to pay, well ultimately it is us that will be paying.

      What of the Olympics and the promise to leave our open spaces for use by as many and as wide a populous as is possible…all of a sudden local children and indeed adults cannot go and kick a football, have a run, families gather and play games…the list is endless.

      Lastly to those that write so freely about handing over fields previously “gifted” to the community FOR USE BY ALL by the previous owners…would you give away your own home for NOTHING and to strangers from elsewhere…NO…so why are they council proposing to do that! For free…nada, nothing, zilch…do you understand, a “peppercorn” rent, that is it…a penny or a pund…a profit making organisation will be gifted a golden egg.

      Just some thoughts for some…

      Oh and Chris M…a fact, yes many insurers will now NOT insure properties around the fields…and secondly if an organisation wish to “spend” say £2m that is not the council getting that money, so they are still giving it away!

      It is hardly a “few” residents, I think in just a very short time over 150 witness statements of use were gathered and nearly all could have been called to give evidence at the inquiry.

      I personally do not wish confrontation Chris, just that the council “talked” with residents and found a way forward for all…that is all. Where there is a will there is always a way and I am sure all the things you have mentioned could be dealt with and all the educational needs satisfied as with all the locals and all of the schools and indeed all of the clubs wishing to continue playing there.

  3. Parent

    Mr Bridge, it is you who has to talk to interested groups. The Schools are very much against the consortium’s plans and parents would like nothing better than the fields maintained for the children. The consortium’s plans are for their own profit and not for the benefit of school children! Parents fully support Mr Blackman’s action.

  4. Norton Bridge

    Nothing has been done for the last 10 years, so now when the council is broke, they are going to be able to fix everything? If you are a parent you will be aware of the huge health hazard the old pavilion opposite poses and how children are always climbing into it. The whole site attracts a lot of anti social behaviour and vandalism, just speak to the school caretaker he will inform you how often cars in the car park are broken in to or how frequently the school is vandalised. With such a danger on the school’s doorstep why has it not been addressed all these years? People need to wake up and realise the council or Department of Education are not going to spend a penny, if they haven’t already. So either leave it to deteriorate and pretend the council will one day spend the money or get something done now.

  5. Stephen Lewis

    Anyone who is naive enough to think that a group of housing developers from Wanstead care whether our children get good sports facilities needs a reality check. The fields are education land and should remain as such. We need more schools, not more function suites pretending they are a sports arena. Have we learnt nothing from the debacle of the Hive. They are losing money on hiring out their sports facility but their all day bar and function rooms are raking it in. They’ve completely ignored restrictions the council imposed. The fields should never have been put out to tender. Permission is needed from the Dept of Education first. I agree that there should be proper changing facilities for the weekend clubs that use the land. But hand over 25 acres of beautiful green fields in NW London for free with no rent to a private developer and see what happens. I can never be grateful enough to Mr Blackman who has worked tirelessly to ensure the fields are kept as education land for our children and not to line the pockets of fat cats from the other side of London. Thank you Mr Blackman, the people of Harrow are in your debt.

  6. Enough is enough

    Bob Blackman has grasped what the first two contributors haven’t. The Consortium is a for profit organisation who will not do local sports clubs, football teams, cricket clubs, Stanmore Baptist Church any favours and those organisations are naive at best and deluded at worst if they think the Consortium will honour their agreements once they got hold of the land. No one disputes that the fields are in a state and that’s down to Local Government, not Bob. It was Harrow Council who proceeded to dispose of the land when they did not have the authority to do so. The VGA was about saving the fields so all the residents and users were best served, which the Consortium has no interest in. Wake up people!

  7. Parent

    And the consortium will leave the schools out, demolish the bridge, “river” and trees the little ones love. they will bring professional fee paying teams and all the children will be able to do is look from outside the fence and wait until they’re old enough and rich enough to play where they now play free

  8. Chris Marshall

    All valid points above, but surely what Bob Blackman should be doing is making sure there is a proper agreement in place to ensure local schools and young people get to use the facilities for free and not a repeat of what happened at The Hive. I don’t think that is too hard, the council has already wasted 60 grand on legal fees for this pointless village green application, they can spend a bit more to ensure there is a cast iron agreement with the consortium. Unfortunately i don’t think Bob really cares about that, looks like he’s only interested in scoring cheap political points and pandering to a few nimbys,

    1. Stephen Lewis

      Exactly my point, the Council wasted a fortune on my village green application (using Stephen’s account because mine has frozen). They don’t even have the right to tender the land yet. I tried and tried to get someone to agree to sit down and talk. But no, why talk to a resident, why bother with residents opinions. We’ll do what we want and check the legislation if and when we can be bothered. Why should we, as residents, put up with this arrogance. This is our life, these are our homes, we’ve worked hard for them. Then councillors, who change parties like the rest of us change underwear, who can be here and gone in 4 years, together with council officers, make decisions that can ruin your quality of life and devalue your property and don’t even have the good manners to consult with you. But try adding an extension to your own house. You have to pay the council a fortune in permission and dance to their tune yet again. When will people wake up to what’s happening under their nose. There has to be a time when we say enough. As the only politician who talked to us and really, really listened, Bob Blackman is a breath of fresh air. He’s helping to save the land because he’s not fooled by smooth talking snake oil salesman. If you need a sports centre the leisure centre is a mile in one direction and the Hive, half a mile in the other. Whitchurch Playing Fields belongs to the children of Harrow. The council may not care about our children but I do. I’m sure you do too, so help us fight for the Dept of Education and the council to face their responsibilities and not pimp us out to the highest bidder


    Bob supported residents when no one else did and he’s getting full points for that. If the council spent half of what it spent on legal fees on listening to residents the consortium would be sent back to Wanstead and the community would run the fields. Shame on the council for continuing to ignore residents and thank you Bob for supporting us.

  10. Timeforchange

    Good for Bob for continuing to support the residents even when the going has got tough! Bob is doing what he and others think is the right thing to do.

    There is clearly great opposition to this and the council should listen

  11. All things good

    Susan Hall what are your views on this?

  12. elvin samson

    I believe that Mr Blackman deserves full credit for supporting the local residents against this proposed total disregard of the views of the local community.
    If the people of Harrow knew the true story of what exactly is taking place, they would be up in arms.:
    1). The council is almost giving the land away for a pittance and on a 99 year lease.
    2) The consortium are backed by, to say the least, some dubious companies and individuals.
    3). The land in question acts as a “lung” for the area
    4). It is on a flood plain. Any building that takes place will mean that the whole area will be almost uninsurable against flood risks. To those who say there will not be flats/houses on the land within 10 years, I have to say that they are sadly mistaken.
    5) Any development of the land will lead to unbearable pressures on the surrounding areas, including, traffic, noise and light pollution.

    If, as the council would argue, they are there to serve the wishes of the residents of Council, one must ask why they are not doing so.

    It does lead one to question the integrity of the councillors who, throughout this process have done nothing but indulge in misinformation, promising one thing but delivering something else

    1. Chris Marshall

      This is typical of the type of misinformation people are spewing on this forum.
      1. The whole point of a 99 year lease means there will be covenants to prevent anything other than a sports and community facility for this period, surely that is a good thing safeguarding the site for at least 99 years. The fact that it requires a minimum of £2M investment is hardly giving it away, especially as it is going to take a lot of investment just to bring it back to basic playing fields conditions and no one else is willing to stomp up the cash.
      2. It is easy to say dubious and not actually give any facts, seems like most opposition is just words and lack of actual evidence.
      3. The land at the moment attracts a lot of antisocial behaviour such as vadalism and drug use. Local schools are unable to use the playing fields due to lack of facilities and poor maintenance.
      4. The whole site is not a flood plain, only the areas bordering Wemborough road and Abercorn road are, as long any new structure built avoids these areas, there should not be an issue. Whitchurch School was built on the flood plain and that did not make the local houses uninsurable. The fact that the majority of the residents overlooking the site are happy to pave over their front gardens for off street parking is adding more to future flooding occurences
      5. Harrow is a growing borough and both the local schools are expanding. There is no point Mr Blackman welcoming increase in school places and trying stop other extra curricular development. Children and communities need additional sports facilities and hubs, Harrow is in desperate need for these. Now if some organisation is willing to build this at their cost, work with them and ensure it benefits the residents of Harrow, don’t block it completely and then have the same problems in the future.
      Let’s just hope the council are not as short sighted as the local MP and take the side of a few residents to the detriment of the rest of Harrow.

  13. Next Door Resident

    The usual Consortium sales speech and misinformation. Here are some facts for you,
    1. The site was publicised for 30 year lease. Only AFTER the Consortium was selected the duration was changed to 99 years. If it had been publicised initially for 99 years, who knows what other groups would have proposed?
    2. There are no covenants and protections on the land. We know what the council agreed because that’s in the Cabinet papers, anyone can look at them.
    3. The Consortium promised allsorts to anyone they talked to. If you believe them, there will be a Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts, indoor beach, nursery, large function hall and three sports bars. Funny that in the cabinet papers they only have the three sports bars and large function hall.
    4. Funny how someone who is not living around the field is talking about antisocial behaviour when the resident living right next to the fields or the police are not reporting that. This is the usual Consortium misinformation designed to make the fields a lot less usable than they are.
    5. If the fields are not usable at the moment, how come that the Council presented no less than thirty letters from schools and clubs saying they’re using the fields all the time and brought a club manager as witness to say his club is using the fields all the time. This is also open fact that anyone can look at.
    6. The consortium is planning to build its astroturf pitch in the middle of the flood plain. That is concrete over a large patch of flood land and running the water into the nearly flooded stream. Again, that’s in the consortium plans, don’t need to look far to find the facts.
    7. The school DID cause a major flood after it was built. Those who live here long enough recall it and the flood works that were done after it. This too is easily recorded FACT.
    8. Building schools over the land will not cost the council a single penny. This is money that comes out of the government.
    9. The consortium’s owners were already involved in one undue influence over councillor (in Castle Point council), they are openly business driven and their main income is from alcohol sale. Did anyone say “antisocial behaviour”?
    10. It’s easy when making the consortium sales speech to ignore the facts and use scare tactics. This is the same sort of tactics that the consortium tried to use when they tried to scare residents that if they don’t get the site there will be a Tesco’s there.

    1. Chris Marshall

      Actually I am an immediate resident and have been following this whole process very closely. At the start I was supporting Harrow Rugby club’s bid, who wanted a minimum 99 year lease, don’t be fooled into thinking anyone willing to invest serious money into this project will take a 30 year lease. If as an immediate resident you are not aware of the level of vandalism that is happening, I need to question how often you actually frequent the grounds. Just speak to school caretaker he will fill you in on the number of cars that have been broken into and I’ve lost count the number of times the fire service has been called to the grounds to put out fires in the old pavilion. I even attended the consultation before the school was built and there was far more opposition to that, local residents were screaming at the Tory council at the time. But that was built and look how many children that has benefited and how well the school has done. You mention a so called flooding after the school was built, as far as I recall since 1996 after construction there has been no flooding caused by the school. Generally fact means giving some details, not making up incidents that never happened. And if you think it is so far fetched that a Tesco or another housing complex won’t be built, just have a look at what happened across the road. The land where Stanmore Place now stands was originally earmarked for a community centre, but due to residents’ opposition that idea was scrapped and the land was sold to developers. I think most residents who opposed it would have preferred the community centre, don’t you?

  14. Concerned resident, Kevin Quincey wonders if Harrow is really as Anti-Business and Anti-Children as some of the above comments would indicate...

    Most of the above negative comments and hysteria above all seem to be written by one or two people possibly with the intention of blocking out rational discussion on this topic. I have some very relevant experience here and would love to share what I’ve learned along the way if this really is a discussion forum that is open to healthy debate.

    I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and loved to play sports and for my day job I helped a couple CEO’s of large companies in Milwaukee with their technology strategy. My twin brother and I and 3 other entrepreneurs with similar interests noticed that friends where we lived did not have the same facilities as where each of us came from in other parts of our state and country so we wrote a business plan, raised a little over a million dollars and proposed our idea to build a world-class sports hall, banquet centre, catering company, and bar that would service hundreds of people per day. It would be called “The Sand Bar” because it offered 9 sand volleyball courts (5 indoor and 4 outside) and a beach theme that would cater mostly to adults, but would be easy for children to safely access too. Along the way, we met another group named AA Metro Center who was working on a very similar concept but focusing primarily on serving children. We thought we could build something even better and bigger for all so we came together and formed “The Epicenter”. From the start of our working together and finding our first investor to the day we opened the doors for business, it took less than 1 year including all the construction and meeting dozens of communities, land owners, and other stakeholders. The business is now named Center Court (http://www.centercourtwis.com) and continues to operate as one of the premier facilities in the US. We are very proud of the many things we accomplished with this effort including:
    – hundreds of bar mitzvahs, company team building sessions, and special days per year (including the wedding party of a couple of my very best friends who met while playing there),
    – becoming one of a very few jewels of metropolitan Milwaukee mentioned in nearly every tourist attraction note (along with being the home of Harley Davidson and Happy Days),
    – being chosen as the regional centre for all USA Volleyball activities in the Midwest every year since opening (yes – this means that every regional tournament of all levels of play goes through us),
    – building community, and increasing the health and sports level of thousands of residents (we even identified and helped to develop a few Olympic athletes)
    – yoga and palates for elderly, coffee and family time, a beautiful warm environment year round, loads of activities that took thousands of children off the sofa and out from in front of the telly to enjoy sport and socialising,
    – creating hundreds of jobs for local residents every year since we opened in 1995, but mostly
    – noticeably and significantly REDUCING CRIME in our community. A couple years after we opened our doors the local police and mayor of Wisconsin’s second largest city told us that we measurably and significantly reduced crime in their city. We weren’t surprised by this at all because we saw many of the same 400-600 teenagers and 20’s somethings every Friday night and many Saturdays that before were enjoying the streets of the community. After we opened they were playing their favourite sport and socialising in the healthy energetic way they really wanted to. These young people were good people just looking for a way to express themselves and meet others but with very few options before we opened, they turned to cruising, drinking, and just hanging out – activities many today call “anti social behaviour”.

    I had not intended to work on a project similar to what I had done before with the Epicenter but three things changed my mind:
    1 – In my first 3 weeks of living in the UK in 2006 I pulled my car over 3 different times to see if a young person lying on the side of the road face down and alone was alive or not (they were but they had binge drank).
    2 – In my first couple years of living in the UK I was the coaching coordinator for a large sports club and every time we needed to reschedule a match, it took us over a month to find a sports hall within 5 miles that could spare 3 hours availability. In my mind, I put these two things together and wondered if I was an 18 year old in this country whether I too would have a drinking problem. The conclusion I came to is that even though I never have had one and to this day I average less than single glass of wine per week, I think here I could easily have fallen there. Children here have the least developed and least abundant sports infrastructure available to them of any country I have ever been too. There are nearly no options available to anyone to just turn up and play at when friends are in town or they just feel like trying a new sport out. Because of the scarcity of venues, clubs have grabbed all the available bandwidth for their members months or sometimes even years in advance.
    3 – I met the 3 very nice initial investors in the Whitchurch fields consortium and their goals and experience matched mine so much that I wanted to help them.

    For anyone new to this discussion, here’s a little context: In the development of Whitchurch Fields, the council has progressed over several years in reviewing ideas, carefully selecting an experienced developer, and working out the details of how this public/private partnership will work for the optimal benefit of as many stakeholders as possible. This process has borne much fruit as the development of this sleepy field has grown into a plan that involves multiple needs and helpful organisations. The Whitchurch Fields community centre and sports fields around it will be a visible Olympic legacy, one of London’s sports hubs for many sports, and a significant employer in Harrow. While any project that takes more than a year before moving onto planning stages risks losing the interest of it’s investors, I think we can all agree that over the past 4 years, anyone wanting to express an opinion about what services they would like to see added to this site has had their chance, and the small but very professional consortium has been more than receptive and accommodating to all of them.

    I understand now why 6 different communities in Wisconsin fought so hard to have us open our facility in their town. We brought hundreds of jobs, thousands of new dollars for the community in tax revenues, healthier residents, happier brides, happier businesses who got a social outlet for their team-building activities, and happier police who had less people on their streets to watch. As far as I know we had no stakeholder groups against us doing what we proposed back there. I am concerned that the few vocal people against this type of development here don’t speak for the majority and certainly don’t speak for the thousands of children and athletes who are desperate to bring the UK’s facilities into the 21th century. I can’t believe that this community would actually ponder trying to intentionally harm through stall tactics and further fleece through sneaky political games this honest business. The Whitchurch Fields Consortium have been unusually patient (waiting through almost 4 years of intentional and admitted delays to their effort to help our community) and have been and continue to be open to suggestions of every stakeholder group identified so far on all attributes of the effort.

    On Runwood homes: Over the past 3 years, I’ve attended at least 100 meetings with stakeholders and have worked very closely with the consortium and all the investors but i’ve only seen anyone from Runwood homes (who is one of the potential builders) ONE time! In the $3 million center that I helped to build in the US, our builder was named CE Doyle and I would have been outraged if someone with similarly anti business or anti children sentiments there would have dug up things that Mr. Doyle had built in the past that they could spin to make him sound less than the very respectable businessman he was, but frankly I don’t understand what that has to do with what the business will provide anyway. If anyone wants to know what Whitchurch Fields will look like after it’s developed, why not look at The Blake Hall Club near Leytonstone since nearly the same investment group proposed and built a very loved venue there – or Center Court in Waukesha Wisconsin? Or look to last year’s “Fun Day” on the Whitchurch Fields site where around 1000 children showed up and had a great day? Why should we as Harrow residents care about who the builder is? Shouldn’t we care about the business owners, investors, and operations manager? And why are we shouting at or about them? They have been the easiest group to talk to that I’ve ever worked with. Why don’t we simply talk to them? So far, they have done exactly what they said they would do in Blake Hall and our fun day, so I’m confused why someone would think they will act differently once they have control of the site. I think we can all agree that the Consortium has been nothing but honest, patient, and open to all ideas with us in Harrow. If the above is how we treat such a business, how will sports and health development ever come here. We need it.

    1. T Moran

      I am a local resident, having lived in Stanmore for over twenty years I have followed the ups and downs of this proposed development over the last few years and having read with interest all the comments I must say that Mr Quincey’s take on the matter is very interesting and well thought out. He seems to me to have got it just about right.

      I have always enjoyed Whitchurch Fields and sometimes use it to run, have a good walk or hit a few golf balls, but have always thought it was a waste of a fantastic space which has never really been used to its full potential. I am sure many people, over the years, would have thought that at some time there would be a strong possibility that a plan for development for housing or similar would be sought. So it seems a logical move to me to embrace a brand new, state of the art sporting complex that could be enjoyed not only by Stanmore residents but the whole borough and beyond.

      I cannot see in this day and age that the 26-acre site will be left as it is. I say we should get behind the proposal and support what this could bring for all of us. I am not only thinking of the sporting aspect for sports men and women, but of the social side of things that could be on offer to both young and old alike. How about coffee mornings, keep-fit for older people, quiz evenings, summer barbecues, youth clubs for younger people, the possibilities are endless and I am sure many people will have some better ideas than me. There will also be job and business opportunities for lots of people which must also be a big plus.

  15. CamroseRob

    There is more to a floodplain than just leaving a piece of land unused. The amount of water an area can hold is determined by soil composition, maintenance and the ability of the water to drain away safely.
    A few have mentioned the Hive as if it is a dirty word but actually the work done at the Hive to maximise the water holding capacity of the land shows what can be done if money is spent. Maintenance of the stream, gullies, drainage combined with retaining flood walls and underground storage pipes have massively increased the land ability to hold floodwater and prevent large scale flooding.

    Any development that takes place on an existing floodplain must provide an impact assessment report and provide solutions to prevent a loss of the protection the land provides. Failure to provide an Impact Assessment would result in any planning application being refused.

  16. Mr Graham Coates

    I have been in business for almost forty years, have had three children, two grandchildren and I know the local area very well, having followed all of the comments posted here I find that it is now time for me to add my view. I have read, researched and very carefully considered all of the comments made and it is without any doubt that I fully support what has been just recently been said and very well presented by “Concerned resident Kevin Quincey 19th December”, this project should most definitely go forward without further delay.
    This is a wonderful opportunity for the entire community and we are most fortunate to be in the position to take advantage of what will without question be a tremendous asset to us all. The coming of the new year will I hope bring this project into being and I am sure that the country as a whole will see this as a perfect example of what can be achieved. Our young people in particular should not be excluded from the chance to achieve, some of whom may not make it academically but will now be given the gift of confidence through sport. Who are we (I am 63) to deny improvement and happiness to our youth, for it is them that we depend on for all of our futures and don’t forget, it is they who will have the greater vote.

  17. A Nonimi

    I also had the privilege of researching the issue at great depth and with the benefit of the links that Kevin added above and the numerous discussions I’ve had with the consortium and residents I strongly object their suggested project.
    I urge all those who comment to have similar research, talk to residents near the Hive who’s lives been impacted because of the traffic, noise and the flood lights (yes, they have trees, little help they are), consider the usage we have for the fields today and consider if this is what we want at Whitchurch.
    It is inaccurate to say Runwood Homes is just a “potential builder” they are that, they are also one of the two owners of the consortium. The other is Cavendish Rowe, a property agent. Why does it matter? Well, think why property developers are suddenly into community centers. They do run Blake Hall, where the management of the hall asked, and was approved for a late night license up to 2am.
    Kevin Q, who’s opinion is above, has helpfully added a link to his previous project. It is an impressive project. If you take a look at google maps and street view, it seems that project in Wisconsin is situated by an airport, hardly in the heart of a residential area. This is, not related to the cosortium or to our area.
    What are the consortium’s plans? Well, let’s look at the plans they have on their website. They plan:
    1. Single point of entry from Wemborough Rd – compare and contrast the single point of entry from Camrose Avenue to the Hive. Residents there talk about lack of parking, traffic issues and noise. Both facilities have car parks in the plan.
    2. Floodlit astrotuf pitches – a large part of currently grass to be concreted over, covered in plastic and have floodlights around it. This is to operate to 11pm. Compare and contrast the similar pitches at the Hive where residents say that the light pollution is so bad that they don’t have to switch the lights on in their houses and that the noise persists into the nights. This is the work for the council, I hear the consortium supporters say, well, great help the council was to residents when they gave license to the Hive to 3am or in resolving the current issues at Camrose.
    3. No less than Two bars in the main building – need I tell people about the, no doubt fictitious, connection between the bars and anti-social behaviour? A matter of the police, I hear the supporters quip. Here’s some simple logic – if you don’t build it in the first place, there are no problems to resolve later.
    4. All the pitches are for rent – correct. Lovely. So if your children now take a ball to kick about the fields in the afternoon, or you take your children there to play or even if you want to drive the odd golf ball or play a bit of volleyball or even build a snowman. These activities would not be possible anymore.
    5. Only focus on football. Nothing against football but we already have a very large football center down the road with league standard pitches. That center isn’t full to half its capacity. I would like to see some other sports tennis perhaps (yes, we said all that to the consortium, they ignored it)
    6. A large oversized building. I know nothing about floodplains but I do wonder where the water would go to (take a walk there today, just make sure you have high wellies)
    7. Limited operating hours – this is one of the common salami method myths. First they ask for license until 10pm then creep into 2am. Just read what happened at blake hall
    8. Community use – the old £1 membership myth. This will buy you the right to go to the bar for a (paid drink) and the right to pay for all other services. Community will be the first thing to be excluded when a fee paying team will rent the facility as their main practice ground. Schools are only offered limited use, much less than they have today. We have the community center across from the school, that center offers a wide range of classes and isn’t full (imagine what would happen to it when the consortium walks in).
    I have had the benefit of seeing real community projects rise. Beautiful examples of those in Canons Park and Centenary Park (both really close) These are often community and council partnerships where the majority of the area is reserved to real, free and unrestricted community use and where there are, on a proportionately smaller part of the land paid for sports. The proposed monstrosity will benefit only the paying teams and the owners (and perhaps a few politicians as they cut the ribbon and look all smug) but certainly not the community.
    So if, as the supporters who talk about being current users in a private rather than organised capacity like to continue that use, I suggest they check again what life would be after the consortium is there.
    A last work about the “dialogue” the consortium and some commentators here suggest. I have participated in all the events by the consortium and talked to them. I’ve listened to other residents. Not a single line in the consortium’s plans was moved because of resident’s concerns. This was not a dialogue it was a lecture. If they’re open to talk and listen, I’m happy to meet them (and anyone else).
    To those who say that we should not consider the residents backing to the fields, well, that’s real neighbourly like, isn’t it?

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