Exclusive: Community bid for Udney Park Playing Fields confirmed

  Posted: 13.04.21 at 22:32 by Ellie Brown

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A community bid to buy Udney Park Playing Fields for use by local people and sports groups has been confirmed.

Hampton Wick resident Jonathan Dunn, a married father-of-two and owner of local firm J P Dunn Construction Ltd, has organised a bid supported by key stakeholders including Hearts of Teddlothians FC, Thamesians RFC, Teddington RFC and Friends of Udney Park.

The playing fields’ owners, private developer Quantum, announced their intention to sell the site in February this year.

But as the fields are an Asset of Community Value (ACV) they can legally only be sold to community groups over the next six months.

Jonathan is Chair of Thamesians RFC but he says his vision for the site “goes well beyond the interests of a single club.”

His plans include renovating the old pavilion, new cricket squares, a hybrid pitch and sports lights designed to have minimal light spillage or environmental impact.

A jogging/walking path around the pitches, and a children’s play area complete his vision for the fields.

Jonathan told Nub News: “As we emerge from the pandemic and can play sport again the need to see the playing fields returned to community use comes into a sharper focus.

“This is about our vision: a project driven by (and for) the community.

“The site goes well beyond the interests of a single club. I see this as an opportunity to create an inclusive environment that champions mental and physical wellness.

“Udney Park is intended to be for multiple sports – rugby, football, cricket, tennis, netball, a mini park run. Sports England are bringing together all the national sporting bodies to ensure that this is properly planned.”

His plans follow six years of uncertainty over the future of the Playing Fields which were bought by private developer Quantum in 2015.

Plans by the developers to build apartments and a GP surgery on the site were opposed by community groups and Richmond Council.

In May last year Quantum lost an appeal to the Government Planning Inspectorate to develop the site and the fields were awarded the protection of LGS status.

Jonathan’s bid is being supported by key sports groups in the area, including Hearts of Teddlothian Football Club which provides football for over 650 children from the local area and does not have a permanent home.

Teddlothian Chairman Jat Mistry said: “Local green space is at a premium and to build on existing sporting pitches like Udney Park is a travesty for clubs like ours and deprives future generations of children from playing sport in the community and pushes them on to their games consoles instead.

“I believe this is our one opportunity to provide a permanent home for our club in Teddington so that we can continue to provide sports for all in the area and support the 1500 strong community of Teddington based parents, coaches, administrators and players associated with the club.”

Emelia Arbouine, captain of Thamesians RFC’s ladies’ team, emphasised the importance of this for Thamesians RFC, especially the club's growing women's section.

She said: “We are constantly having to find pitches around the borough to train and play on.

“Due to the growth of the Thamesians over recent years our home at the pavilion on Twickenham Green is simply now too small.

“This will bring together our playing, training and clubhouse to a single venue and allow us to develop our mini and junior sections, which we cannot do with the current separation of our pitches from any facilities.”

Meanwhile, Simon and Luiza, co-founders of Tennis for Teddington which manages the tennis courts at Udney Park, said: “We are pleased to hear of Jonathan's bid and believe it could bring positive change and a secure future for Udney Park Playing Fields and the tennis courts in particular.

“We will be doing whatever we can to assist his bid and also help with any future conversations with Sport England or the LTA.”

Simon Cartmell from Teddington Rugby Club added: “There are many clubs with varying needs in the borough. Our specific requirement is for midweek evening training for our men’s, women’s and youth teams.

“As a result we fully support and are integral to the community bid.”

On Sunday, Jonathan and representatives from these groups met at the Playing Fields with local councillors and Teddington MP Munira Wilson, who showed their support for the plan.

Munira told Teddington Nub News: “Udney Park is a rare open space within our constituency where community sports teams can train and play.

“It is a great local asset and I pledge my full support to the community bid.

Local sports clubs including Hearts of Teddlothians Football Club, Thamesians Rugby Football Club, Tennis for Teddington, and Teddington RFC are supporting the bid / Credit: Ben Queenborough

"There is so much potential for the site to be brought back into full use and for the pavilion, which was built in 1922 as a war memorial, to be renovated.

“It was inspiring to meet coaches and children from Teddlothian FC who have more than 650 members and are in search of a home.

"Likewise, Thamesians RFC have thriving Men’s and Women’s teams, but the option of a permanent home would allow them to expand their provision of rugby for children.”

Hampton Wick Councillor Robin Brown added: "I'm delighted that a community plan for the playing fields is coming together now that Quantum have announced they are planning to sell.

"Well done Jonathan and all concerned. I urge Quantum to exit gracefully without delay."

Jonathan is currently seeking support from the wider community for the bid.

“Beyond these sporting interests there is already engagement with local councillors and residents to ensure that there is as wide as possible consultation around the plans,” he said.

“With this transparent approach, the potential of what this scheme promises will speak for itself.

“There is a need for everyone to get behind the plans to ensure our community reaps the long-term benefits.”

More information on the bid is available HERE

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