Political momentum for a CPO growing

The Udney Park Trust have released a ‘press release’ updating everyone on the momentum gathering for a CPO of the fields at Udney Park. Local hustings were held as a prelude to this week’s general election and the Trust raised a question regarding the future of the site.  It was confirmed at the hustings that all parties committed to back Richmond Council using its Compulsory Purchase powers to acquire Udney Park Playing Fields.

The Udney Park Trust is a separate body from the Udney Parks Community Fields Foundation. The UPPF Trust was originally set up by local residents to oppose the development of Udney Park by Quantum. They have continued to campaign vigorously since the ownership of the fields passed to Mr Wu. With another for-profit bid being proposed by local resident, Mr Keith Williams, they will no doubt remain at the forefront of protecting the site.

A full copy of their press release is as below –

ALL TWICKENHAM CANDIDATES BACK COMPULSORY PURCHASE OF UDNEY PARK PLAYING FIELDS

 At the Hustings on 28th June all Parliamentary candidates for Twickenham committed to back Richmond Council using its Compulsory Purchase powers to acquire Udney Park Playing Fields.  Udney Park is 12½ acres of prime sports fields, left to rot since Imperial College sold them to speculator Quantum in 2015.  Quantum comprehensively lost a planning appeal in 2020 to smash local policy and build flats on the Fields.  The present owner, using a British Virgin Island company, has Udney Park on the market again. 

 Now it seems a local property speculator, Keith Williams, who has collaborated with Kuwait-based Sahlia on several projects, claims to have an option to purchase from the BVI company.  An option would prevent a local charity from buying the Fields at their true playing field value.

 The Udney Park Trust asked the Parliamentary candidates: “Councils can use CPO powers to acquire Asset of Community Value that “are in danger of being lost and where the owner is unwilling to sell” and pointed out that in the 2019 Government Guidelines on Compulsory Purchase, local communities are encouraged to press for CPO process in such circumstances.  Would the candidates support our request for the CPO process to commence?”

 Jonathan Hulley, the Conservative candidate, backing the CPO, thought it scandalous that the community had no right to use Udney Park given its Asset of Community Value status and urged the Council to use their existing powers to serve notice on the owner requiring them to restore Udney Park while the CPO process was set in train. 

 Alex Starling, the Reform Candidate, considered it unacceptable that property speculators should be allowed to try and profit from a War Memorial and favoured a CPO.  Tom Bruce, the Labour Party candidate and Hounslow Councillor, stated that the CPO procedure had been used in Hounslow when necessary and could be used to acquire Udney Park 

 Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrats, supported the return of the Fields to community use, pointed to her record of raising Udney Park in Parliament several times and would back a CPO. 

 Richard Bennett, Green Party, on the Council Committee which rejected Quantum’s planning application. He supported a CPO and said 10 years loss to the community was far too long.

 Udney Park Community Fields Foundation, a local charity, stands ready, willing and able to run the fields at no public cost, and acquire them from the Council at their true playing field value, so rendering the process fiscally neutral for the Council. 10 years of ownership by speculators denying public amenity is beyond enough. 

 There is unanimous and strong political backing from all parties standing in Twickenham that they will back the community request for Richmond Council to start the CPO process to secure Udney Park Playing Fields forever.

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Pavilion Building allowed to fall apart

Pavilion Building allowed to fall apart

Posted on 7th Jun 2024

The tragedy of the War Memorial Pavilion has been revealed by arial photos taken by residents. These reveal that under the ownership of Mr Wu the building has fallen into such disrepair as to render future renovation work hugely expensive. The project had been to bring the changing rooms back into early use for the community clubs playing on these fields. There were relatively new boilers and heating systems installed just before Imperial College sold the site. The building interior had been dry – even if the changing rooms needed to be brought up to modern standards.

Alternative bid submitted for Udney Park playing fields.

Alternative bid submitted for Udney Park playing fields.

Posted on 7th Jun 2024

It is hugely disappointing to report that Udney park is now under offer from another group of investors headed up by local resident, Keith Williams.

Udney Park is an Asset of Community Value, defined in the Localism Act (2011) as "Land is an asset of community value if its main use is to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community." The Localism Act states that ‘social interests’ include cultural, recreational and sporting interests