On behalf of the Friends we have submitted comments on the second application for planning permission to turn the Bowling Green and Club-house into a ‘Putt in the Park’ facility. The fact that a site which was being cared for by an existing organisation appears to have been offered to the operator of a pitch-and-putt facility, a short distance away in Acton, without any evaluation of the best alternative use of the site nor any kind of tender process, is a particular concern. Much of the proposal relates to converting the Club-house into a cafe but we do not understand why this is deemed appropriate. As part of the regeneration project a single catering contract was issued for the new cafe near the Museum (which awaits rebuilding after the fire) and another cafe in the Sports Hub (for which we believe there is not sufficient funding to fit it out for the time being).
We have expressed our views on a number of planning issues – the location in the busy area near the car parks when 30,000 users are expected per year, the installation of yet more flood-lighting and its likely impact upon wildlife habitats, and the tawdry quality of the Putt in the Park style of design (especially planting/landscape and gateway/signage) which is inappropriate for a Grade II* Park.
The Friends’ long connection with Gunnersbury Park means that we have preserved a significant archive of material, such as the Options Appraisal of 2009 which praised the Club as a valued facility, and the Frequently Asked Questions document about the Sports Hub, which spoke of its importance. These have enabled us to correct factual inaccuracies in the information submitted.
Supporting the Bowls Club to become stronger and more sustainable could be a significant opportunity for the CIC to demonstrate its community values in maintaining an activity which has operated in the Park since 1931. It is wrong to treat the club with contempt for failing to meet the CIC’s requirements. In the view of the Friends, the Bowls club deserves support from the CIC to gather the expertise to help it to move forward and play its part in the future of the estate.
Read the submission here