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Act now! Please tell the Council how Udney Park Playing Fields are so special to the community

Act now! Please tell the Council how Udney Park Playing Fields are so special to the community

The Teddington Society is asking its members, and the public at large, to contact Richmond Council by Thursday 4th April to say how much the Udney Park Playing Fields “serve the community” and are “special to the community”.

This is the latest move in the long-running planning dispute over the future of the playing fields, which were given in perpetuity for the purpose of leisure, but which developers want to build on.

In 2016 the Teddington Society and the Friends of Udney Park applied for the fields to be designated a Local Green Space (LGS) – but this was rejected by a Planning Inspector, who declared the designation was “not justified adequately”.

Following an appeal to the High Court, the Planning Inspector’s decision was in turn overruled. The High Court ordered a new consultation on the LGS status of Udney Park, including a full public consultation.

That consultation period is now open until 4 April, by which time we must say why we object to the Inspector’s decision. We are asking local people to contact Richmond Council and, in their own words, object to his decision on the following grounds:

• Udney Park has been a playing field for 100 years. There is a shortfall of playing fields locally and several local community sports clubs have no permanent home;
• Udney Park is home to eight protected species of bat and is a critical part of a connected ecology network of local parks and river embankments;
• Udney Park is a war memorial, donated under covenant for amateur sport;
• Udney Park is an important green space in the centre of Teddington that must be protected. The Plans that threaten Udney Park are for luxury apartments for which there is no need, because there are already 300 under construction within half a mile of the Park on brown-field sites.

Cite any other reason you feel strongly about, as well. It’s essential that you email your objections to localplan@richmond.gov.uk by Thursday 4th April. Or send by post to Policy and Design, LB Richmond upon Thames, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham TW1 3BZ.

The Teddington Society joins the Friends of Udney Park in declaring that the Playing Fields are a precious resource in a part of the borough where many families have made their home. Local sports clubs are short of space and have long waiting lists. We need to save the Playing Felds so they can accommodate seven pitches, have a pavilion with modern facilities, and can be used by all local clubs.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is LGS status?
Local Green Space (LGS) is a relatively new type of protection which is nominated by communities, and is basically “urban green belt”. The Teddington Society and the Friends of Udney Park applied for LGS status for Udney Park in 2016. It was approved by Richmond Council and became part of its draft Local Plan.

Why did the Inspector remove LGS?
In his Final Report to “approve” the draft Richmond Local Plan, the Inspector said:
66. In light of the absence of robust analysis as to its (Udney Park’s) value against the criteria of the Framework and how any judgements have been objectively assessed in relation to, for example, its beauty, historic significance, recreational value etc, the designation is not justified adequately. It is unclear how it ‘serves’ the community.

Why did the High Court Judge rule that the removal of LGS was unlawful?
The Judge ruled that because the Inspector made no reference to his intervention on Udney Park in his Main Modifications, the final public consultation stage, the community were denied the opportunity to provide evidence to show how Udney Park is “special” and “serves the community”. On the contrary, Quantum (who wish to build on the Playing Fields) as an opponent of the Plan were allowed to submit substantial lobbying against LGS status, claiming for example that Udney Park had “no protected species” and “no recreational value”.

The new Main Modification Consultation
We now have a consultation period (until Thursday 4th April) to submit to the Council and Planning Inspector why we object to the Inspector’s proposed removal of LGS on Udney Park from the Council’s draft Local Plan.

Why does LGS matter?
Quantum’s submission to the Public Inquiry scheduled for June 24 claims their Plan is justified by the “lack of national protection”. The Judge ruled that the question of LGS status must be determined before the Inquiry – hence the urgency.

Urgent Action Required!
“Subject matter expert” objections will be submitted, but we also need a volume of community objections that express exactly how, referring to the Policy criteria, Udney Park “serves the community” and is “special to the community”.

Please email your objections to localplan@richmond.gov.uk by Thursday 4th April.

The criteria to mention in your Objection
It is helpful if people decide for themselves why they object to the removal of LGS.

The National Planning Policy says:

99. The designation of land as LGS through Local Plans allows communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them.
100. LGS designation should only be used where the green space is demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, (e.g.) because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife.
So the key points to address in any Objection are that:

• Udney Park has been a playing field for 100 years. There is a shortfall of playing fields locally and several local community sports clubs have no permanent home;
• Udney Park is home to eight protected species of bat and is a critical part of a connected ecology network of local parks and river embankments;
• Udney Park is a war memorial, donated under covenant for amateur sport;
• Udney Park is an important green space in the centre of Teddington that must be protected. The Plans that threaten Udney Park are for luxury apartments for which there is no need, because there are already 300 under construction within half a mile of the Park on brown-field sites.
Cite any other reason you feel strongly about, as well.

Conclusion
LGS is uniquely a designation to protect “important” land that is “nominated by the community”. It’s essential that you email your objections to localplan@richmond.gov.uk by Thursday 4th April. Or send by post to Policy and Design, LB Richmond upon Thames, Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham TW1 3BZ.

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