Sports clubs fear losing their ‘premier’ grounds in Barkingside
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 February 2013
Children in Redbridge would have to travel “miles and miles” for football and cricket pitches if playing fields were redeveloped, according to a cricket club chairman.
The Old Parks clubs have invested £750,000 in Oakfield, according to Mr Nutt, including for a clubhouse and a second pavillion.
The cricket club has four senior teams and children’s teams from under-11s to under-16s.
And Mr Nutt said the football club is a “stalwart” in the Southern Amateur League, with more than 100 members.
Six youth and academy football teams use the facilities.
The clubs, which have been on the site since 1989, also have links to Redbridge schools including Ilford County High School, Caterham High School and Woodbridge High School.
Primary schools are involved in cricket coaching.
Redbridge Council is considering development sites throughout the borough to address housing and infrastructure needs over the next 15 years, including the Oakfield sports ground in Forest Road, Barkingside.
But members of the Old Parkonians football and cricket clubs, which use the site and have developed facilities through a charitable trust, are fearful over where their future lies.
The clubs, under an association, occupy 19 acres, next to similar sized land used by Hainault and Clayhall Cricket Club, affiliated to Frenford Clubs for Young People, and bordering the Redbridge Sports and Leisure Centre (RSL).
Chris Nutt, 68, chairman of the cricket club, said: “Alongside RSL and the ex-Frenford site, this forms the premier multi-sport facility for the borough.
“Splitting this up will cost yet more millions and makes no sense for residents, us, the finances of the borough, or our schoolchildren.”
The RSL site is not being considered for development under the recommendations within the council’s core strategy review, but the remainder of the Oakfield playing fields would no longer be considered green belt.
They could then be used for a school, family housing or a NHS polyclinic.
The football club, formed in 1902 and a member of the Southern Amateur League, and the cricket club, formed in 1906 and part of the Essex League, use five football pitches, two cricket pitches and two pavilions.
Mr Nutt said: “When you look at the acreage we’ve got and the alternatives, it would be very difficult to find us another ground.”
A council spokesman said: “Any redevelopment could involve reconfiguring the remaining open space areas but the intention is that substantial areas of open space would remain on the site.
“If the proposals are accepted, they would be implemented over a long period of time and the council would work with existing users to minimise disruption. “If this wasn’t possible, alternative sites would be sought for them.”
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