Nearly eight months beyond final offers being submitted, the sale of Udney Park to A N Other is still to be confirmed. Whether there is a meaningful alternative to the community proposal remains to be seen. What is clear is that since 2014 the site has attracted increased planning constraints as chronicled below.
• UPPF was an Other Open Land of Local Importance (OOLTI), an important Local protection that is about open views in built-up areas that should be maintained.
• Udney Park is listed as a Major Site in the Local Plan Playing Pitch Strategy. LBRUT gave clear planning advice in 2015 that they would protect Udney Park • The Council Leaders said in 2015, “Quantum knew they bought a Park in a Borough that protects green spaces, it was a foolish purchase”.
• The London Mayor said in 2015, “Udney Park was given for amateur rugby, development would be a scandal and disgrace”
• Knight Frank ran a comprehensive marketing campaign that resulted in a single unconditional developer bid, from Quantum (now called AHH).
• AHH spend £4M on consultants and lawyers, resulting in a comprehensive defeat at Public Inquiry. The Inspector refused AHHs “planning balance” case and gave no wriggle room for any future “mixed use” application.
• AHH were represented by the leading Planning QC in London, who admitted afterwards that the strength of the ruling ruled out future development.
• The Council, Sport England and the Teddington community were each represented by QCs at the 14-day Public Inquiry and the expensive team put together by AHH lost every argument.
• UPPF (the local trust) has maintained OOLTI and the s106 on the hedges are now enforced.
• Tree Preservation Orders protect the trees all around the boundary and rule out new access points.
• Local Green Space, a national designation for especially sensitive urban locations, was awarded by a Planning Inspector after a High Court case.
• Asset of Community Value, a national designation for Assets intended to move to community ownership and operation, with rights for communities to trigger a Compulsory Purchase Order for “owners unwilling to sell”.
• Site of Boroughwide Importance for Nature Conservation has been proposed in the new Local Plan, after the presence of 9 protected species was confirmed during the AHH planning application.
• Building of Townscape Merit and re-recognised as a War Memorial, the highest tier of local heritage protection, confirmed by LBRUT.
• In the Local Plan Playing Pitch Strategy, Udney Park is now a “Strategic site”
• Savills ran a comprehensive marketing campaign that resulted in an unprecedented complaint from an LBRUT Director that the marketing instructions were misleading. Despite Savills’ claiming Udney Park was an “investment opportunity” there are zero unconditional developer bids.
• The Times and Private Eye run articles about the impasse over Udney Park calling on Lord Fink to intervene
Against this backdrop the community bid remains in place should the other purported offer(s) fail to come to fruition. In the meantime one third of the site is leased to Teddington Rugby Club - primarily for floodlight training. This is hardly a substitute for the genuine community use which the Foundation hopes to one day provide. So the saga rolls on, but if there is a break to this impasse it will be notified via this website.