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• Local Green Space status restored to Udney Park Playing Fields – they are ‘demonstrably special’, says Planning Inspector

• Local Green Space status restored to Udney Park Playing Fields – they are ‘demonstrably special’, says Planning Inspector

The Udney Park Pavilion – dedicated as a War Memorial

The Teddington Society warmly welcomes the Planning Inspectorate’s announcement that the Udney Park Playing Fields (UPPF) in Teddington warrant designation as Local Green Space (LGS).

This is equivalent to Green Belt status and raises the barriers to any development of the site. The Inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, states that “it is abundantly clear that UPPF meet the criteria for LGS designation” and “I am of the firm view that designation of UPPF as LGS has been very clearly justified”. He cites UPPF’s local significance both historically and ecologically.

“There is an abundance of evidence to show that the UPPF have historic significance” the Inspector says in his report to Richmond Council. “The site has associations with significant sporting figures, notably Sir Roger Bannister; the site was donated by Lord Beaverbrook, an important historical figure, in 1937; and while the memorial carrying their names may have gone, the War Memorial Pavilion was built in 1919 as a tribute to fallen fathers from Merchant Taylor’s School. Furthermore, Udney Park itself was opened by Viscount Cave in 1922 and dedicated as a War Memorial.”

He continues, “The lack of public access is of course a limitation, but the UPPF, as the name suggests, are playing fields, and they do provide at least some recreational value. On top of that, while not particularly tranquil, there is evidence to show that there are many protected species of bat using at least parts of the site, and that the open space contributes as part of a corridor, within a wider ecological network.

“Bringing those points together, there is more than enough evidence before me to show that the UPPF are demonstrably special to the local community and hold a particular significance.”

This is a major boost to the protection of the playing fields and although the developers, Quantum, have six weeks during which they can appeal the decision, the Inspector’s decision is expressed in strong terms.

It also marks the latest development 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 Quantum wants to develop.

In 2016 the Teddington Society and the Friends of Udney Park applied for the fields to be designated a Local Green Space – but this was rejected by an earlier Planning Inspector.

Following an appeal to the High Court, that decision was overruled. The High Court ordered a new consultation on the status of Udney Park, including a full public consultation. The present report, by a different Inspector, is the latest important development.

However, this isn’t the final say in the matter. The ultimate decision on the future of Udney Park Playing Fields will be made at a continuing Planning Appeal which resumes on 9 March at York House, Twickenham.

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