Munira Wilson intervenes to facilitate a meeting with the new owners of Udney Park

Jonathan Dunn, the Chairman of the Udney Park Community Fields Foundation, wrote to the representatives of the owners of Udney Park at the end of March, to express concern about the deterioration of the war memorial pavilion. A copy of this open letter is as below –

Hi Stuart

 It is a number of months since my joint inspection of the inside of the pavilion with Mr Wu’s representatives (Tony and Rob). What we all agreed upon at the time was that without roof repairs the fabric of the war memorial pavilion would deteriorate very quickly.

 We witnessed water flooding in via broken windows, skylights and sections of roof. The Parana pine timbers, with which the roof structure is constructed, remained structurally sound at the time, but it was clear that these timbers would not survive a long period of saturation. If this is allowed to occur then the value of Mr Wu’s asset will radically diminish, and bringing the changing rooms back in to use will become considerably more challenging and costly.

 There had been a shocking amount of vandalism in the twelve months since my previous inspection, and I note that since Christmas a temporary hoarding has been erected to arrest this immediate problem, but as yet no roof repairs appear to have started.

 Sorry to press you on this point but what is the plan for these roof repairs in terms of timing? Initially Rob and Tony had mooted that this was high on your agenda? You say below that the council ‘need to confirm that they are happy with any external works’? I cannot see anyway that LBRUT would be justified in opposing maintenance, or any reason why they would want to do so. Quite the opposite, I understand that LBRUT have powers under Section 215 to enforce maintenance due to the historical status of this building. I am sure that they have no wish to divert valuable resources on to this sort of action.

 As well as representing the Foundation, I am fielding concerns from a number of local interest residents groups and would appreciate if you could come back on this point so that I can allay everyone’s concerns.

 I will await your separate update on the progress with LBRUT on planning matters and returning the fields to daytime community use, but the roof problem is not linked to this, so hopefully you could come back fairly promptly on this single point.

 Many thanks

 There has unfortunately been no response to this letter - indeed communication with the local community has come to a virtual halt. We therefore welcome the intervention of our local MP, Munira Wilson. She has arranged a meeting with the representatives of the new owners for mid-June. The Foundation have been invited to attend this meeting.

High on the agenda at this meeting will be the rapid deterioration of the pavilion roof, but also there will hopefully be some sort of indication as to when community sport can return to the playing fields. Currently this is restricted to night-time training by Teddington RFC, and ongoing use of 2 of the 3 tennis courts. All other community clubs remain locked out of the site.

If the pavilion is to be left to rot, then the next stage would seem to be a S215 warning letter. Hopefully this sort of action can be averted and instead the owners will offer reassurance that they will be responsible custodians of this important building.

In separate news, the Teddington Society have applied to have the ACV status of the fields to be renewed. In England, an Asset of Community Value (ACV) is land or property of importance to a local community which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011. This means that a sale cannot proceed until the nominating community organisation has been given the chance to be treated as a potential bidder. Unfortunately (as was discovered under the ownership of Quantum) this status cannot enforce a sale to the community, but nevertheless this status will send out an important signal to the new owners that Udney Park is of unique importance.

Against this backdrop, the Foundation will continue to seek dialogue and accommodation with Mr Wu, in order that community clubs can be playing sport at Udney Park as soon as possible.



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