Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cricket Facilities Under Threat

Worcester Park Cricket Club is urging supporters to attend a public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday 6th November) evening at Bourne Hall to help save the Old Salesians Playing Fields in Ewell where many of their games are played.

While the club’s First and Second XIs use the familiar Green Lane pitch for their games, the 3rd and 4th XIs have been using the ground at Old Salesians for the past two years. This is because the club runs four sides each Saturday in the Surrey Championship. As the London Borough of Sutton no longer provides any cricket pitches for hire, Worcester Park Cricket Club (WPCC) have had to look elsewhere for pitches. The ground at Old Salesians is probably the nearest venue of a suitable standard for the club to hire for their Surrey Championship league games. It is relatively close to Worcester Park and provides a good pitch, changing rooms and kitchen facility.

The thing is - there are now development proposals for the Old Salesians ground. Since late 2011, Nonsuch Abbeyfield has been in discussions with the owner of the Playing Fields, the Salesians of Don Bosco, and the Old Salesians Playing Fields (Ewell) Limited who lease and manage the sporting and social use of the Playing Fields.

Nonsuch Abbeyfield says they want to build a two and three story “Independent Living with Care” facility with 60 beds restricted to those with a need for care. (A care home in other words). This will be supported in its professional work by the resources of between 20 and 30 local volunteers.

In return Abbeyfield has said it will refurbish and improve the existing playing fields including a new sports pavilion with changing facilities and other ancillary facilities to Sport England standards and a dedicated car park for the playing pitch use.

However the proposed development is apparently not widely welcomed and opposition to the scheme is being led those who use the facilities including, amongst others, local schools such as Ewell Castle and the WPCC. Amongst their objections are:
  • The loss of 40% of the playing area, and the best area (i.e. that which is not landfill) which for football is recognised as one of the best surfaces in the Southern Amateur League. 
  • Loss of Cricket Pitch facility which is the only ‘square and circle’ of a reasonable standard in the borough, other than Priest Hill (Glyn School).
  • The football pitches will be reduced in size from current dimensions and positioned too close to the railway line so that balls will go onto the lines. And the steep gradient (towards the river) is a  dangerous run off area for collection of balls, even with appropriate fencing.
  • 4 pitches reduced to three will result in increased wear and decrease quality of playing surface;
  • Pitches will overlap with the third (rugby/soccer) pitch across the cricket square which is untenable, and proposed practice area with the pitch which is undesirable.
  • Loss of protected trees, development too overwhelming for the site and access via Old Schools Lane unsuitable for any increase in traffic.

The public meeting is being held at Bourne Hall, Ewell, KT17 1UF (in the main hall) on Wednesday from 3.30pm - 5.30pm and then with a formal presentation followed by a question & answer session between 6.30pm - 7.30pm. Please go along to support the WPCC or just to find out more.