There has been a fair amount of passionate opinion and information circulating via printed and online media over the last few weeks concerning the plans for the former Imperial College sports ground in Udney Park Road Teddington. Some people have also expressed a degree of confusion over some of the contradictory information being circulated by those in favour and those against the submitted plans and others asking why Teddington RFC supports the plans.
It therefore seems timely to let you have a brief explanation of the plans and more detail on the position taken by Teddington RFC. It all concerns the submitted plans being developed by the Teddington Community Sports Ground, Community Interest Company (The CIC) and the developer Quantum, and here we will specifically deal with the situation regarding the new sports, leisure and community facilities planned on the site. You may agree with our reasons or you may not, but at least you’ll know why we support the plans.
If you can’t find the information you’re looking for here, or want a bit more detail then please look at the FAQ section of The CIC website (click here) or on the attached CIC newsletter.
You can also access the submitted planning application on the LBRUT website (click here)
NOT JUST FOR US BUT FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
Under the submitted plans, the CIC will be gifted 9.5 acres of land that is currently privately owned to manage in perpetuity as custodians for the community. The open space and sports facilities will be built at no cost to the council or the tax-payer and we (Teddington RFC) as a club will be able to use them alongside many other local clubs, organisations and the community at large.
WHY TEDDINGTON RFC SUPPORTS THE PLANS
The Board and wider Management Committee of Teddington RFC recognises that the development of the Udney Park site is a difficult issue and understandably there is a wide variety of views both within the club and more specifically within the local community. Our decision to support the plans has therefore not been taken lightly. Some of you might wonder why we are supporting the plans, given that:
1. we already have access to the site, and
2. Opposition groups claim that the club/community would have access to much more (9 pitches) if the proposal fails and a “Plan B” comes into force.
So in turn here is the rationale:
(1) "We already have access to the site"
It is important to remember that the site is privately owned. In fact, the land has been in private hands for a long time and the wider community has not had access to it. It is not a public open space, despite people calling it ‘Udney Park’. The fact that Teddington RFC is currently allowed access to it is because we have a licence to operate there with the permission of the current owners (Quantum). This permission could be revoked by them or any other future private owner at any point. Under the current development proposal, 9.5 acres of land and fully developed sports facilities that are fully in line with the current Richmond Council Playing Pitch Strategy would be handed over to the community and that ownership would be protected by law in perpetuity. The community is therefore not “losing" the full site, but gaining 9.5 acres under the current proposal.
(2) "There would be greater access under Plan B"
There is a counter proposal being touted that it is possible to operate the site as it is, but with 9 grass pitches including a full cricket pitch, and the full site being made available to the community. The Rugby club board do not believe that the ideas put forward as a “Plan B” are realistic or sustainable. We have witnessed at first-hand how Teddington Athletic FC and the CIC, who have been running the site as a sports ground for 2 years, have not been able to find a way to get 9 pitches on to the site, nor to make it pay its way financially. And this is without the need for a new owner to buy the site from Quantum, invest in the clubhouse to meet current standards and generate sufficient income to maintain the 12 acres of grass. And if it is sold, what guarantees are there that the site will be open to the community anyway?
The CIC, together with Quantum, has designed a high quality and sustainable set of community facilities, with a business plan that has been validated by experts in the field. While the area given over to grass pitch space is reduced for rugby & football, the utilisation actually goes up because the full size 3G pitch can be used far more than any grass surface. Furthermore the current Richmond Playing Pitch Strategy has identified that there is a shortage of floodlit all-weather 3G sports pitches available for community use in the Borough. So this pitch will provide a much needed all weather floodlit resource. In addition the current proposals make a range of different community facilities available on the site, so further increasing access for all. And perhaps most importantly, the proposals take 3/4 of the site out of private ownership and place it in community ownership, where it will be protected from further development forever.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS FOR TEDDINGTON RFC
The Board and committee of Teddington RFC support the current planning application for Udney Park Road. This is because the club will benefit directly in the following ways:
1. access to a brand new multi-sport floodlit 3G pitch - for weekday evening training and for matches at the weekend where appropriate (e.g. in bad weather when grass pitches are unplayable)
2. access to a full size grass pitch which can be used for both rugby & football matches at the weekend
3. access to a shared brand new community centre with fantastic coffee shop/bar/events space and modern changing facilities, a crèche/nursery and
better drop-off / parking / turning arrangements
DO YOU SUPPORT THE PLANS?
If you do, then you can click here to indicate your support. Please act now as the now extended deadline of 13th April is fast approaching.
Your support can be registered in various ways, quickly and easily by clicking on the link above and also via the ONLINE and EMAIL routes below.
Whether you support the plans or you oppose them the most powerful way to register your view is to write to the council. You can do this by using the template at the bottom of this note and sending an email directly (see below).
1. Go to the Teddington Community Sports Ground CIC website: www.teddingtonsportsground.com
2. Click on the support tab
3. Fill in your name and address and press the “submit" button.
1. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy to: S.Grahamemail@example.com
Please BCC: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the subject box please write: Application No: 18/0151/FUL-Former ICL Private Ground, Teddington TW11 9BB.
3. If you support the plans then feel free to use the suggested wording below, or use your own wording and comments.
"I have seen the proposals for the land that will be gifted to the community, and support the planning application for this and the elderly accommodation. It will be fantastic to see this piece of land being used for local sport, and how wonderful to be able to see football, rugby, basketball, netball and tennis to name but a few sports being played here. Members of the community will be able to hire the new pavilion for business, training and social events and have somewhere to meet on a regular basis. The extra care flats for older people are desperately needed - Richmond has a shortage of suitable homes for people in this this age group which the council has to address.
The land has never been accessible to the public, and through my involvement with Teddington Rugby Club, I have seen first hand how hundreds of young people have benefited from being able to use the ground on an interim basis, thanks to Quantum. This proves to me just how much public sports facilities are in demand in Teddington, and I hope that the council recognises this too.
From (please add your full name and address otherwise your support will not be counted)"