After Imperial College ceased sporting activities at their sports fields on Udney Park Road, rumours have been rife about the future of the 13 acre site in the heart of Teddington. The process is now open for bidders to make themselves known but the desperate need for local sports facilities, green spaces and protection against over-development has led to the formation of a concerned group Space to Play.
Space to Play is a community consortium of local sports clubs, schools, businesses and residents that are coming together to ensure that the Imperial College playing fields remain an open space and a dedicated sports facility that can be opened up to the whole community. Local sports clubs and some schools are in need of extra playing fields in order to meet the demand from local families – many have long waiting lists to join clubs.
The key to the success of a community bid is Richmond Council’s commitment to keeping the playing fields as green open space. The group believes there are historical, practical and legal reasons why they should remain so:
Space To Play is assuming that the Planning Department’s position holds a ‘presumption against commercial development‘ despite the site being marketed with potential for this – the sale info emphasises ‘Potential for a number of alternative uses including D1, C2 & C3 subject to the necessary consents.’ D1 is non-residential (e.g. schools) C2 is residential institutions (e.g. nursing homes) and C3 is housing.
The group needs support of local residents to ensure that this ‘presumption’ becomes a ‘conviction’. Interested parties must put forward proposals in the next few weeks and a community bid would almost certainly be the best way of safeguarding as much of the land as possible. Visit their website for more info and to add your signature to their petition if you are also concerned about the future of the site.