The Future For Dover House Rd Playing Fields?

Council to review options after University pulls out

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In 2010 it was announced that the maintenance and improvement of the Dover House Playing Fields was to be taken on by Roehampton University. Not only would they be building a new pavilion they would take on the costs of maintaining the ground - a saving for residents through the council of £70,000 pa. In 2010 Cllr McDermott said:
"And to cap it all council tax payers will be saved £70,000 a year in running and maintenance costs so the general public are getting excellent value for money."

image @ Stuart King

In return for a 99 year lease, Roehampton University planned to invest £1.5 million into the sports fields, through building a new pavilion, improving changing rooms, and creating an artificial playing surface and offer continued community access to the site for 25% of the time.

In April this year, local football team the Dover House Lions reported that they were under threat of eviction by the University for their use of the grounds on Saturday mornings to allow local private school Putney High use the pitches.
Putney High's lacrosse team plan was to use the pitches from 8am-10am on Saturday mornings, whilst the Dover House Lions, which has a community outreach organisation, have been using the pitch between 9am and 1pm since 2004.

However the the management and maintenance of the pitches is now in limbo after a University spokesman announced on 23rd September :
“The University has decided not to pursue its plans to develop the Dover House Road playing fields, despite its best efforts to find a solution that satisfied the needs and aspirations of all community users.

“Our proposal was to invest significantly in upgrading the grounds and building a new pavilion, at the same time as guaranteeing all current levels of community use. Our aim has been to bring together local partners and community groups to provide a much enhanced facility for local sports teams.

“We are grateful to all our partners who have worked very hard to try to create a first-class sports facility for the young people of Roehampton and Wandsworth, and regret that despite the best efforts of many people, we have not been able to secure the universal support for the scheme that was needed to make it work.

A spokesman for the Council has told PutneySW15:
"The Council is now reviewing its position in the light of the University withdrawing its interest and it is likely that a report on options will be submitted to the relevant committee in late November.

" The Council stresses that there has never been an intention for this site to be other than playing fields. The proposed deal with the University was simply for them to take over management of the site, fund the building of a new pavilion that is needed, and guarantee community use of the facility for at least 10 years. The Council would have retained ownership of the site."

Local resident Sarah Wilton told PutneySW15:
"Local residents are very concerned that there has been little or no direct consultation on any of these leasing and development proposals - either with local community groups who have been using these fields for many years for Saturday and Sunday morning football, and cricket in the summer, or with the many local primary schools who hold their annual sports days and cricket matches or with local residents who would be unanimously opposed to any development on this site, particularly if it included tree felling, any concreting over the fields for car parking or floodlighting on the playing fields.

She continued:
" The proposed arrangements for continued community use of the playing fields are far too vague and limited. They do not protect the local community's interests adequately. What community use will there be of these playing fields after 10 years? Probably none.

It's essential that there is proper and adequate consultation with the local community before proceeding with any further proposal for development of these important (and increasingly rare) community playing fields"

September 24, 2014