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Foundation makes substantial offer for Udney Park playing fields


      The pavilion is in desperate need of renovation


Teddington Town can reveal that the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation has made a substantial offer to purchase the 12.5 acres of the Udney Park playing fields from a Chinese developer, called Leisure Focus . This company is based in the British Virgin Islands and is owned by a Mr Wu.

The offer comes after a long and expensive campaign by the Foundation to restore the playing fields to its former status and establish a new multi-sport hub and changing rooms in the centre of Teddington.

Mr Wu paid £3.5m for the site with a view to building badminton courts which have proved to be too impractical and too expensive.

According to a detailed proposal, seen by Teddington Town: “The Fields now have the highest level of planning protection possible and so any development of them is a practical impossibility. The fields must therefore be used as community playing fields and nothing else.

“The Fields and Pavilion are now in a state of disrepair. The pavilion roof covering needs to be replaced and the changing facilities must be brought up to modern standards before they can be used, even by amateur clubs.

“A conservative estimate of capital expenditure required now by the Fields and Pavilion is £1,000,000. Although grants are available to assist with this, those grants are available only to charities or amateur sports clubs, and then only if they have security of tenure over the Fields over an extended period (generally as a minimum 25 years).”

The Foundation is chaired by local businessman Jonathan Dunn is funding the purchase with a combination of private donations, and monies contributed via the Community Ownership Fund.


Overgrown and neglected – Udney Park playing fields in Teddington

As part of any deal, The Foundation says it would be happy to ‘recognise’ the involvement and contribution of Mr Wu in various ways such as naming rights to the tennis courts; a celebratory plaque in the war memorial pavilion; acknowledgement at the opening ceremony; a position as a trustee of the Foundation and ensuring that Mr Wu is kept aware of the lifetime benefits of the Udney Park Project by regular updates.

Mr Dunn has also made it clear that would be happy to agree with Mr Wu or his representatives to names of estate agents to agree a realistic and current valuation of the Udney Park playing fields given the state of disrepair and work required.

According to the Foundation document there will need to be a ‘seven-figure injection of funds simply to restore the facilities after a decade of neglect.’

The pavilion building has been open to the elements with gaping holes through the roof and skylights allowing substantial water ingress. The fields require stripping and renovation; the cricket square has been surveyed by the ECB and will need to be rebuilt; one of the three tennis courts is already too dangerous to play on due to tree roots below the surface, and the other two courts show surface cracking and require resurfacing.

The Foundation says it can access some funding from Sports England and the national Sporting Bodies, as well as several other sources to help bring the site back in to use.

It adds: “The Foundation will enter in to full and open discussions with residents during the consultation period after purchase to ensure that all concerns are considered in respect of heritage issues surrounding the pavilion, ecological considerations, extent of car parking, the provision of a play area, the provision of outbuildings for equipment, and limitations to the use of temporary sports lights.”

This includes refurbishing the pavilion in line with Sport England standards including 4 team changing rooms and officials changing rooms, providing a fully equipped gym for fitness training, conditioning, and recovery, modernising the two community rooms, bar area and kitchen to host functions and providing space for a community café.

The Foundation has opened dialogue with a charity called Surplus to Supper to operate this café and run events at the pavilion. This charity aims to bridge the gap between food waste and food poverty in this and adjacent boroughs.  Depending on the extent of the damage caused by the exposure to the elements the pavilion may need a new roof, floor and entire internal structure.

The layout of the actual playing fields is being developed with Sport England and the national sporting bodies.

The traditional pavilion at Udney Park playing fields


Aerial view of the 12.5 acres of the Udney Park playing fields, destined to be a community sports hub

An initial draft of the layout appears on the Foundation website to give an idea of what is intended and includes 11 x pitches for mini and youth football; 2 x full sized pitches for adult football and rugby; 1x cricket field; and 3 tennis courts.

Two of the three tennis courts are playable although they would need resurfacing in the next year or so. The third court requires remedial work before being put back in to use due to root damage to the surfacing.

The playing fields require significant remedial work before bringing back in to use. Specialist advice is being taken to determine what work is required to bring the cricket squares and pitches up to standard and the pitches will be made available for hire to the public on an ad hoc basis subject to availability and sensible management of use.

A sports light scheme utilising occasional temporary lighting towers is to be developed to allow the teams to train on some days midweek between fixtures. This will replace the previous unplanned use of temporary lights and mitigate against the impact of noise and light spillage on ecology and residents.

A paddock is to be provided for horse riding for children and adults with disabilities or learning difficulties in co-operation with Teddington’s Park Lane Stables.

Outdoor public areas – whilst the playing fields will not be public open space there is specific provision for areas of public access including a  900m jogging track to allow a mini park run for children and an outdoor gym areas adjacent to jogging track and a children’s play area.

The document adds: “If this offer is acceptable there is a huge positive legacy. The land would be guaranteed for perpetuity as sports fields.

“The Foundation Offer for the Fields is a generous figure in all the circumstances and is commended to Mr Wu and his advisors. If this offer is not acceptable then please advise what outcome Mr Wu might be seeking, as the Foundation, as a charity, has very little flexibility on what is set out above.”


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