You may have seen some sports being played on the fields in the last week or so. Quantum has done a deal with Teddington Athletic Football Club allowing the latter to use some of the field for sports. It is a pleasure to see and hear young children and adults doing what the Udney fields were meant for - healthy exercise. This is what we want to see and hear across the entire 13 acres, not just a small part of the site.
TAFC’s arrangement with Quantum is for 18 months during which Quantum will be preparing its planning application. It is part of their campaign to get local sports clubs on their side. The Quantum argument is that the more local clubs use the fields the more dependent they will become on them and, of course, the more they will be inclined to support Quantum in its application to build its ‘aircraft carrier’ on a third of the site.
We respect TAFC's right to use the fields, indeed we welcome the use. However, we would hope that no local partner adds to the planning permission by partnering with Quantum when the wider community is best served by the entire site being retained for community sport.
What we want is Quantum to sell on to a buyer who can assure that 100% of the site will be used for sports and available to local clubs.
We have learned through a Freedom of Information request that Imperial College retained an ongoing interest in the Udney site following the sale to Quantum. Imperial actually agreed with Quantum a requirement to apply for planning permission for "Alternative Use" on "at least one acre of the site" which would trigger a further payment to Imperial of "at least £1million". Be clear, this is Imperial, a publicly funded institution, encouraging for financial gain a developer to ignore the covenant on the fields as well as the prevailing planning policy of the borough. Imperial’s attitude seems to have been “we’ve bought some other sports fields so let somebody build on these...’ Cynical in the extreme.
We have written to each of the private investors in the fund set up explicitly for the purpose of developing the sports fields. We set out the sensible moral case for retaining the fields in their entirety and asked whether they really wanted to be associated with such an opportunistic and ‘grubby’ scheme. We have, as you’d expect, heard nothing back but maybe they are asking difficult questions of Quantum. One can hope so.
A charitable trust, Company number 10953531, is preparing to take over this wonderful heritage site in trust for perpetuity for the benefit of the whole Teddington Community. We want to see the entire 12+ acres, together with a well-refurbished existing pavilion, made available to all local sports clubs, community groups, Park Lane Stables, the scouts etc.
It is increasingly apparent that the only acceptable and viable option is our Plan B. FUPPF have now engaged with leading Planning Consultants, who confirm our view that Quantum have almost zero chance of getting planning approval on a playing field for their massive built development. Plan B can happen!
The Trust is ready to provide Quantum with a graceful exit and to work with TCSG CIC and all local interested clubs to achieve an outcome in which all can win. Quantum risk massive damage to their corporate brand if they fight to the bitter end a community that simply does not support their plans.
The public hearings are about to start. The status of Udney Park Playing Fields as a Local Green Space (LGS) is on the agenda from 9:30 onwards Monday October 9th, hopefully more precise timings to follow. The hearing is at York House, Twickenham, and members of the public are welcome.
Apart from the predictably massive 86-page challenge by Quantum to Richmond Council's decision to grant Udney LGS status there are a number of personal objections.