A meeting is being scheduled between council officers and councillors

A meeting is being scheduled between council officers and councillors with the new owners of Udney Park. The foundation had asked to be represented at this meeting to provide transparency but Council leader Gareth Roberts has indicated that he prefers this initial meeting to be to the exclusion of community groups.

The Foundation has therefore requested that the following items (in italics) should be explained to Mr Wu’s representatives at this meeting so that there can be no ambiguity about the future development of the site, beyond being as community playing fields.

1. LBRUT need to clearly state that any future Pre-App process will be subject to public scrutiny under FOI so that councillors and interested parties have transparency on any proposals – the recent Pre-App for UP was not open to any such scrutiny as the planning officers gave the applicant a commitment to confidentiality. This should not happen again.

2. LBRUT should reinforce that planning guidance is as the attached letter from Paul Chadwick dated 21st July 2021, which was distributed by Savills to all potential buyers during their sales campaign

3. LBRUT should make it clear that planning restrictions have radically increased since the purchase of the land by Quantum in 2014. These are summarised in the attached link https://www.udneypark.co.uk/news/latest-update/ Quantum spent £3.5m on an abortive planning application and got nowhere and Mr Wu needs to be aware that any future plan to overturn any of the hard-won protections for Udney park will be rigorously resisted

4. The fields are an Asset of Community Value and with this designation comes a responsibility upon the land owner (Mr Wu). The pavilion and fields need to be properly restored and then maintained for the use by the community. The fields have not been managed properly by the previous owners. In particular –

o The playing fields have been allowed to deteriorate with no maintenance.
o The cricket square has not been maintained since 2015 and is now in such a condition that a recent English Cricket Board report concluded that it would need to be dug up and reconstructed.
o One of the three tennis courts is now unsafe to use due to tree roots lifting the playing surface and the other two courts will fall out of use within a couple of years if not resurfaced.
o The war memorial pavilion has been subject to extensive 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. Thus, there are now no changing and shower facilities available at Udney Park even were the playing pitches brought back in to use.

The minimum requirements of responsible management of the playing fields going forward should include –

o 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.
o The fields should be marked out, with posts, pads and nets provided.
o There should be a proper maintenance regime put in place.
o The cricket square should be reconstructed and maintained from mid-April to end September
o The pitch layout should broadly be as the proposal from the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation as shown on their draft business plan (ref website https://www.udneypark.co.uk/the-plan), or else as is agreed with the community clubs to suit current needs.
o A plan should be put in place to restore the tennis courts - commencing with remedial work to the third court where the surface has lifted.
o Reinstatement of the external fabric of the pavilion making the building weather resistant again, and the changing rooms and showers should be brought back in to use and properly managed

Mr Wu needs to clearly state whether his plans for the site incorporate the above, and if so what is the projected timetable for this work?

5. LBRUT should point out that the Localism Act provides for a CPO in the event that an ACV is mismanaged, and that whilst the council do not seek to go down this route, it is an option they will be prepared to consider rather than allow the fields and the pavilion to further deteriorate.

Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the opening of Udney Park as playing fields in memory of the fallen of the former pupils of Merchant Taylors School in WW1. No better time to take strong action to bring the fields back in to community use.

Once there is feedback from council officers and/ or councillors it will be posted on the website.


Other recent news

Foundation submit bid to Mr Wu and support in Parliament

Foundation submit bid to Mr Wu and support in Parliament

Posted on 6th Feb 2024

I have now attended two positive meetings with Mr Wu’s representatives, together with my fellow trustee, Philip Barnes. The most recent meeting was the week before last. An offer to purchase the fields has been submitted. More information has been requested. The Foundation is providing an executive summary as to why the land should be sold, in order that Mr Wu’s representatives can go back with to Mr Wu with a recommendation. This submission will go in this week.

The second meeting was also attended by our local MP, Munira Wilson, who made several robust statements in support of the bid. Munira left all attendees in no doubt as to her position. Her position has also been set out in Parliament on more than one occasion, most recently as link below.


Discussions on purchase of fields due to commence

Discussions on purchase of fields due to commence

Posted on 27th Sep 2023

The ACV for the sale for Udney Park playing fields was finally triggered on 15th September 2023, when the owners formally confirmed to LBRUT that they intended to sell the fields. A moratorium of six months now commences during which time the fields can only be sold to a Community Interest Company (CIC).

Foundation to submit bid AND receives a mention in parliament.

Foundation to submit bid AND receives a mention in parliament.

Posted on 14th Jul 2023

Confirmation of the sale of Udney Park playing fields was confirmed in the local press igniting hopes that the fields can be returned to community use https://teddingtontown.co.uk/2023/07/06/teddingtons-udney-park-playing-fields-back-on-the-market/

The Foundation have contacted the representatives of Mr Wu in order to put in motion an offer for the purchase of the playing fields. The site is designated as an ACV, and is currently under a moratorium which prevents the sale of the land to anyone other than a Community Interest Company (CIC) for a six month period.