Foundation have written to the new owners of Udney Park

The Foundation have written to the new Chinese owners of Udney Park. The owner is an investment fund run by a Mr Wu. The company name is Leisure Focus and they are based in the British Virgin Islands.


A copy of the Foundation’s latest correspondence with the owners solicitors is as below.


By way of follow-up – I have read your email in a bit more detail over the weekend, and would offer a couple more observations.


I note that you state that ‘it is not their (Leisure Focus) intention to redevelop the site in the way that was proposed previously’. This does imply some level of redevelopment at Udney park and to me this would seem to go against all planning guidelines for the site.


I previously looked at a commercial sporting use with a couple of professional sports clubs, but the restrictions on floodlights, artificial pitch surfacing, any changes to the built environment, and car parking restrictions caused me to abandon these ideas.


I also proposed a modest redevelopment on less than a acre of the fields to provide the GDV which would allow me to get to the £3m that AHH aspired to sell at. Again I was given no encouragement by council officers or councillors that this would be acceptable. The position was set out very clearly by LBRUT in the attached letter dated 21st July 2021 which Savills distributed to all potential buyers.


I note that Leisure Focus is an investment fund, so presumably the investors will be seeking a return. I also note that circa £3m has been paid for the site which is several times playing field value.


Bearing all of this in mind I would appreciate a candid conversation on exactly what is proposed.


It would seem that if you are seeking to break the impasse that has stretched back over 7 years, then early dialogue would most definitely be helpful. I would suggest that my Charity has the widest support possible, and that this engagement should start as early as possible in order to diffuse obvious concerns. I would be happy to have this meeting in conjunction with our local MP, councillors and council officers, or alternatively I am happy to meet with you separately. You mention a meeting in the next few weeks and so I will await a suggested timing and venue.


Incidentally please note that the Foundation is separate from all the Trust which was set up to fight the original planning proposals. The sole purpose of the Foundation is to preserve Udney Park for the playing of community sport in perpetuity – as was envisaged when it was established 100 years ago as a War Memorial site. Whether this can sit alongside Mr Wu’s ambitions for Udney Park, I will be happy to explore.


Subsequent to this letter being sent a mid September meeting has been proposed. Hopefully this meeting will provide clarity on what Mr Wu plans for Udney Park.

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Foundation submit bid to Mr Wu and support in Parliament

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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

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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).

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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

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.