Teddington: community bid for Udney Park REJECTED by field's owners

By Ellie Brown - Local Democracy Reporter

5th Nov 2021 | Local News

The community bid for Udney Park Playing Fields has been rejected by the current owners of the land, Nub News has learned.

AHH/Quantum confirmed today (20 August) that 82% of the investors have agreed to accept an alternative bid for the site and they intend to exchange soon.

No residential bids were put forward for the fields. The bid that is set to be accepted is a sporting one.

Jonathan Dunn, who led the bid for the fields and intended to purchase the site for community sport, expressed his disappointment at the outcome.

He told Nub News: "My vision was that Udney Park could become a community hub providing much needed playing space for our local clubs.

"I do not feel sorry for myself -but I do feel sorry for all the volunteers at Thamesians RFC, Hearts of Teddlothian FC and Teddington RFC who really needed these fields for their youngsters to play on.

"Sport was only a component of an overall plan for the site. I am also particularly sorry that we cannot develop proposals with some of the charities that we have been engaging with.

"These ideas included a community café to be operated in partnership with The Feel Good Bakery who work so hard to place youngsters in to meaningful work.

"We also aimed to provide a base for Three Pillars who do so much to support young people to forge a brighter future by delivering sports based mentoring programmes for young men in the criminal justice system, in order to aid their reintegration in to society.

"The ACV process ended last Monday and I have to say that I am hugely disappointed that a bid has been accepted within 4 days without any meeting or meaningful engagement with the community bid.

"I appreciate that it is the prerogative of the investors to accept an alternative bid but I believe that the community proposal was a generous one.

"It valued the fields in excess of a playing field valuation and It also provided AHH and their investors with an exit in line with the ethical and community values that the AHH website espouses.

"I guess at the end of the day this was always about money."

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Jonathan added: "Thanks to everyone who gave me their support throughout this process.

"As we emerge from the Covid pandemic playing sport and mental health all the more important.

"We have just had another fabulous haul of Olympic medals but the reality is that since 2010 there has been a real slash of 47% in government support for community sport.

"I was hoping that by retaining Udney Park in a small way we could respond locally to these issues.

"The whole experience has underlined for me how important it is that everyone places an importance on maintaining our green spaces and playing fields."

Visit the bid's official website here

Jonathan noted that the site still has restrictions which will curtail commercial sporting use.

"So maybe the other bidder will have second thoughts," he said.

"For example, the site is included in the next Local Plan as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (SMINC), this is a London-wide designated and second only to the National designation of SSSI.

"When the Council Biodiversity officer assessed the ecology at the playing fields for the Planning application, noting the 9 protected species present, she determined that the site should be evaluated as a SMINC for the next Local Plan revision.

"The charity South West London Environment Network is leading the evaluation, the Local Plan update has started and will be adopted in 2023/24.

"Natural England also objected to residential development on UPPF at the Public Inquiry.

"The site is also included in the next Local Plan as a Building of Townscape Merit. Historic England recognised that UPPF retains its status as a War Memorial.

"The park and pavilion were funded by a specific war time charity set up as a memorial to the WW1 fallen and are protected by covenants for "amateur rugby" that remain on the Title Deeds.

"Historic England in their evidence to the Public Inquiry recommended to Richmond Council that the Pavilion and surroundings be added to the local register of protected heritage assets, which Richmond defines as Buildings of Townscape Merit.

"The application for local heritage protection has been prepared with expert advice and will be submitted as part of the Local Plan revision."

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