JOIN US as a Friend of Old Schools Lane Playing Fields (FOSL) in opposition to a proposed building development proposed by Nonsuch Abbeyfield on the playing fields in Old Schools Lane in the heart of the village, a designated Strategic Open Space and part of the special conservation area and character of Ewell Village.
There will be significant environmental impact if the proposal is successful, including highways concerns with increased traffic in a vulnerable area, as well as the disastrous potential impact upon the sporting provision previously enjoyed by St Clement's & Ewell Castle Schools, St John Bosco College, Old Salesians FC, Worcester Park CC, and other local sports clubs and groups.
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UPDATE - 21/01/16:
The decision of the E&EBC Planning Committee on Thursday 14th January was to approve the application of Nonsuch Abbeyfield. However, given that this decision represents a departure from planning policy the final decision will rest with the Secretary of State. We may therefore have a further opportunity to oppose the application and state our case for the future - watch this space!
Concern was expressed by councillors regarding Heritage - the care home building was described as like 'an office block', Highways - in broad terms and in Old Schools Lane itself, the susceptibility to flooding, the protection in perpetuity, going 'against policy', in particular with regard to Open Space and against Sport England's position - "if we let them build here then no sports fields or open space is safe". Some Councillors also expressed distaste of what was described as 'planning blackmail' by the owners of the site. Nevertheless Councillors in the final analysis evidently felt that "perceived benefits of the proposal would on balance marginally outweigh its disadvantages", and focussed rather upon setting a tranche of conditions upon the approval.
Last year the petition reached over 1500 in number. Well done and thank you. Initial planning application was refused, but the campaign continues. Lets achieve an even bigger number this year.
Thank you for visiting our website. We represent a group who were, until 31st August 2014, the users of the playing fields in the heart of Ewell Village in Old Schools Lane, ie. of representatives of users : Old Salesians Football Club, Ewell Castle School, Worcester Park Cricket Club and St Clement's Primary School. St John Bosco College, Wandsworth had been the other main user - since the amalgamation with Salesians College in 2011. The decision has been made that the site is surplus to requirements of the St John Bosco College. The owners of the site (the Salesians of Don Bosco [UK]) now wish to sell the land and, in partnership with the Nonsuch Abbeyfield organisation, seek to develop a proportion of the site with a 'retirement facility' whilst retaining the remainder for sport.
You may have been able to respond to the invitation from Nonsuch Abbeyfield to attend their public consultation in June this year which revealed draft plans for a revamped application. Further detail is now available on the E&EBC Planning website. It is evident that there has been some reduction in the 'mass' of the building development, but the proposed layout of the pitches remains with the consequent loss* of sporting provision.
*A crucial part of the development strategy is that the previous users of the site were evicted in September 2014 hence creating the impression that the proposed development represents an improvement for sport as the site now lies fallow!
There was strong opposition voiced at public meetings to the initial proposals made on both environmental and sporting grounds, details of which can be found on this site. The Ewell Village Resident's Association, our MP (Chris Grayling) and Sport England, incorporating the various sports bodies eg. the FA, RFU and ECB, also lodged their opposition to that proposal.
Somewhat mistakenly, the proposal suggests that the site was previously underused and that traffic will be reduced whilst increasing usage on fewer pitches! In fact the facility was used every day of the week all year round for soccer (4 grass pitches), rugby (1 pitch), cricket (Surrey Championship full size) and athletics (400m track). Restrictions on previous use of the fields was only that instigated by the owner! The Abbeyfield proposal offers just 1 smaller grass pitch for soccer or rugby, 1 smaller cricket pitch and 1 artificial grass hockey pitch. Make your own conclusions! The site has been the spiritual home of the Old Salesians FC for some 80 years, providing a safe and secure environment for all its users – including at the time of closure : two local schools and a local cricket club, and contributes significantly as one of the many protected sites in the area, to the character of the village.
We acknowledge the attractiveness of housing for the elderly – but are also aware of the many alternative sites declined by the developer. Particularly in view of the significant development under way at NESCOT, surely there is more than enough encroachment upon our village and increase of the urban sprawl. Let us stand firm against further erosion of our open strategic open space within the conservation area.
We remain hopeful that, with a further application refused and a clear message against the possible success of any future building development plans on this site, the owners will accede to our wish and offer to return the site to the community as a playing field in its entirety, when we will gladly embrace other local sports clubs in our venture. Either way, a further rejection will ensure protection of this valuable open space in the village, as other space is eroded at an alarming rate eg. on the other side of the village on the Reigate Road.
If you share our concern at the potential loss to the community, please keep up the good fight and register as a 'Friend' and express your feelings of disapproval and opposition to any planned building development via our links provide to the E&EBC Planning site, on our petition and by registering as a 'Friend'.
We will be publishing our own 'manifesto' soon. We are establishing FOSL as a charity and Alec Stewart, a former local resident, a former captain of the England Cricket team and with the highest number of caps, has agreed to be our Patron. We offer a real alternative to the Abbeyfield proposal, under the banner of 'Ewell Sports & Leisure', and one which represents no loss of open space and all the area returned to the community as a sports field.
Please help us to 'Save Ewell Playing Fields' and your village.
Local resident and Chairman of 'Friends of Old Schools Lane Playing Fields'