Teddington Udney Park update: MP requests urgent meeting with Tory peer and AHH chairman over fields' future

  Posted: 16.09.21 at 20:05 by Ellie Brown

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Teddington MP Munira Wilson has requested an urgent meeting with Conservative peer Lord Fink over the future of Udney Park playing fields.

She is taking action after a resident-led bid for the site was rejected by the field's owners, Affordable Housing and Healthcare group (AHH), in favour of an alternative sporting bid.

Local councillors and campaigners fighting to save the fields from development slammed the decision and expressed their fears about the fields' future.

Now Wilson is calling on Lord Fink, also known as Baron Fink, to meet with her to discuss the fields' future.

Hedge-fund manager Lord Fink is the Chairman of AHH and one of the Conservative party's top donors.

He has been a life peer with the party since 2011 and was a significant backer of Boris Johnson's campaign for Mayor.

Conservative peer Lord Fink, who is also the Chairman of AHH (Image: Chris McAndrew)

In 2015 Johnson said at Mayor's Question Time: “I note Udney Park was donated to St Mary’s Medical School by Lord Beaverbrook in 1937 specifically for use as rugby union pitches.

"It would be an absolute scandal and an outrage if that land was lost for that purpose. My general view is that you should keep green space in London and rugby pitches should be regarded as sacrosanct."

In her letter to Lord Fink, Wilson pointed out that AHH had not met or engaged with the bid's leader Jonathan Dunn despite the company's ethical goals.

"You state on AHH’s website that: “Investors benefit from good returns, wealth preservation and peace of mind that their capital delivers positive social and economic impact,"" she wrote.

"AHH’s stated aspirations display a progressive approach to communities and investing.

Teddington MP Munira Wilson speaks in parliament (Image: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

"It therefore seems incompatible with that approach for then to proceed with an alternative non-qualifying bid, without even the courtesy of a discussion with Mr Dunn."

She pointed out the benefits that the community bid could give Teddington residents, for example in providing local sports clubs with a home and being a site for a charity cafe.

"Mr Dunn’s bid, through a charity he set up to buy then run the fields, would protect this desperately needed green space, needed even more so post-pandemic," she added.

"Over the last 7 years, a great deal of public and community resources has been spent fighting for a community-led future for Udney Park.

"AHH has the opportunity for a graceful exit to put an end to this situation by selling to an ACV-qualifying bidder as the Locality Act 2011 intended, rather than a sale to a non-ACV qualifying bidder, which will lead to continued public controversy over the future of Udney Park."

A brochure advertising AHH's sale of Udney Park playing fields (Image: Savills)

Commenting on the news, Philip Barnes of the Friends of Udney Park group said: "The community is waiting to see if Lord Fink responds to the request from our MP and then uses his influence as Chair of AHH to change the unfortunate course which will see Udney Park sold again to a mystery speculator, in direct opposition to the protections on Udney Park that were established during the Cameron administration."

The community bid for Udney Park playing fields was set up earlier this year by local resident Jonathan Dunn.

It was backed by high-profile sports organisations including Sport England and the RFU.

More information on the bid can be found HERE.

Udney Park playing fields, located off Teddington high street, were sold by Imperial College London in 2015.

The fields are a desperately needed green space for the community and could provide a home for sports clubs (Image: Nub News)

They were bought by developers Quantum who later rebranded as AHH.

Attempts to turn the fields into housing and a GP service were rejected by the Council and thrown out at the government's Planning Inspectorate last year.

What do you think should happen to Udney Park playing fields? Let us know, email [email protected] with your views.

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