With strong feelings both against and for plans to build a new artificial turf football pitch in Brockwell Park, Lambeth council’s parks and leisure services department has released a briefing on the scheme.
Time for comments on the plan – of which there are already more than 80 – is due to run out on Tuesday (16 August).
The council briefing reveals that the impetus for the scheme comes from a national planning exercise and that the total cost will be about £800,000 with £200,000 of this coming from the council and the rest from the Football Foundation.
The foundation is a charity established by the Premier League, The Football Association and government to provide grass roots football facilities.
The briefing says that an existing cinder pitch which would be used for part of the new pitch is an “eyesore”. The proposed new pitch would also cover part of a wildflower meadow next to the cinder one.
The briefing summarises “key points” about the plans, which both make the case for the pitch and address issues raised by objectors.
They say “there will be no net loss of biodiversity”, explaining: “Some scrub and approximately half of the wildflower meadow” would be lost but be recreated in the conservation area immediately to the north of the planned pitch.
According to the briefing, “it is planned that the overall area created will be larger than the existing meadow”. New “scrub islands” would also be created elsewhere in the park.
Proposed floodlighting from 12-metre high poles would be “screened behind the existing line of trees”. The briefing says pipistrelle bats, which have been observed in the park “are not disadvantaged by the LED lighting” and that “there is some evidence it is beneficial” to them.
Development of the artificial pitch is likely to reduce play on the existing grass pitches, freeing up more space for informal recreation, the briefing asserts.
The council will directly manage the new pitch, with a full schedule of programmed activities. Many of these will be provided by key community partners, primarily the St. Matthew’s Project, at no or low cost to participants.
Some chargeable slots would generate income to cover costs.
A vehicle track to the facility shown in planning application drawings “is purely temporary for construction vehicles” the briefing says, adding that: “There will be no new roads built in the park and no vehicle access for users”.
The briefing says that the strategic partnership board for the park was unable to identify “a more appropriate location”. Some people have suggested that the existing areas used for football training along the Norwood Road boundary of the park would make a better site.
The briefing says the existing cinder pitch is 50 years out of date and “a wasted asset” with a deteriorating surface and retaining walls.
More than 100 football teams are based in Lambeth. The briefings says an “online consultation” revealed significant interest from many local clubs that are unable to train or play in the borough.
Brockwell Park originally had three Redgra (cinder) pitches. One is now the BMX track and the other became the wildflower meadow in 2019.
The required specification of a new pitch means that the last old Redgra pitch space is too small.
To protect the existing trees between the edge of the cinder pitch and the path leading from the Lido to the Briton Water Lane gate, the new pitch needs to be set back, outside the “root protection zone”.