Teddington: letter submitted seeking council intervention to force clarity on Udney Park’s future

By Eli Haidari

20th Jun 2022 | Local News

The Udney Park Community Fields Foundation today submitted a letter addressed to the Director of Environment and Community Services for Richmond, Paul Chadwick, asking for council intervention to force Udney Park's private owners into addressing the field's uncertain future.

The former Imperial Sports Ground is privately owned by AHH group Ltd and despite a respectable community bid for the fields last year, it was rejected.

Since the owner's rejection of the communal bid from the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation, there has been no clear progress regarding the field's future with fears increasingly growing that AHH are biding their time until an appealing commercial offer is put on the table.

Despite the land now being protected green space after a successful legal challenge, the conditions of the fields continue to deteriorate due to the disregard in ownership from AHH.

Jonathan Dunn, a trustee from the Udney Park charity, listed the ways irresponsible management have led to the field's poor conditions during AHH's seven-year ownership in his letter to Mr Chadwick, which included:

  • The playing fields being allowed to deteriorate with no maintenance
  • The cricket square not being maintained since 2015 and now in such a condition that the English Cricket Board report concluded that it would need to be dug up and reconstructed
  • One of the three tennis courts now unsafe due to tree roots lifting the playing surface
  • The war memorial pavilion has been subject to extreme vandalism, and water ingress now threatens the structure of the 1922 building which is protected by Building of Townscape Merit local heritage status and recognised as a War Memorial.

More than 50 names were included on Mr Dunn's letter to Richmond council registering their support for the charity's plans for Udney Park moving forward, including Teddington Cricket Club, Hearts of Teddlothian FC and senior players from both the men's and women's Thamesians sides.

Seven requirements were stated in the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation's letter outlining how AHH should be working to protect the community space:

  • The access to the playing fields and Pavilion should be restored for community sport, and at reasonable rates reflective of those chargeable for community sport within the borough
  • The fields should be marked out with posts, pads and nets provided
  • There should be a proper maintenance regime established
  • The cricket square should be reconstructed and maintained until the end of September
  • The pitch layout should broadly be as the proposal from the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation as shown in their draft business plan or is alternatively agreed with local community clubs to suit current needs
  • A plan is put in place to restore the tennis courts – beginning with work on the third court where the surface has lifted
  • Reinstatement of the external fabric of the pavilion making the building weather-resistant again and re-introducing changing rooms and showers

Mr Dunn concluded his letter by suggesting a two-week period for AHH to respond with proposals addressing the current conditions of Udney Park playing fields, or, to alternatively agree to engage with the charity set up to ensure that ownership is transferred to the charity as an asset of community value.

Councillor Robin Brown, the Lib Dem cabinet member for finance and performance, was also included as a recipient, with Mr Dunn stressing the Lib Dems had been re-elected at the local elections based on a manifesto which included a pledge to defend Udney Park from development and to press the owners to accept the community plan.

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