Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Playing Games with our Open Spaces

Redbridge Council's so-called Fairness Commission used Redbridge i, local newspapers, social media and public libraries to publicise a survey supposedly justifying a proposal to spend £400,000 providing football and cricket pitches at the Goodmayes Park Extension in the south of the borough. Yet there is already a perfectly good ground just across the road - Goodmayes Park.

Goodmayes Park Extension
The plans for the extension were presented earlier this month, though you might think the council could wait until after publication of their own Playing Pitch Strategy review.

Instead – in what some suspect could be a move to prove that the borough has too many pitches, thus justifying the highly lucrative flogging-off of Fairlop's 40-acre Oakfield playing field to bury it under 1,200 new homes – the council are again jumping the gun. Followers of this long-running saga will recall the failed attempt to push the Oakfield sale through in the summer at a special council meeting.

At the November council meeting, Councillor Dev Sharma claimed “overwhelming support” for the Goodmayes Extension plan. In fact the Council’s survey generated only142 responses. Another survey, by the Friends of Goodmayes Park, got 167 responses. Many of the responses did not support the plan, so the grand total of “overwhelming support” was a few hundred at most.

Wake up you southerners! In the north of the borough nearly 8,000 signed local and Parliamentary petitions to preserve the fantastic value provided by Oakfield. The council have treated these petitioners with the same contempt they have shown their own Playing Pitch Strategy review. It has not yet reported, yet they are presenting plans for the Goodmayes Park Extension as if they know what the needs are going to be over the next 15 years or so.

That is something Sport England and the sports' governing bodies are still struggling with and can’t report on until next year.

One rule for the south of the borough, and another for the north?

Chris Nutt & Phil Postings
Save Oakfield Society

Editor: The Save Oakfield Site campaign has now been incorporated as the Save Oakfield Society – with Trustees and over 4,800 members and growing rapidly.


  1. Just look at who the councillors are for the area around GPE. Then you'll understand the reason why so much is to be spent.

  2. one sided rant isn't democracy. No one jumped the gun. I promised nothing will happen until all evidence is gathered.

  3. full council will make decision when all facts are presented and are up to date.

    1. The article wasn't empty rhetoric; it was factual. Perhaps in the interest of even handed evidence the Council will hold an evening's presentation and discussion for Oakfield as they did for the GPE (which incidentally I agree should be left green and open).

  4. Whilst I respect and applaud Councillor Athwal's insistence that he will consider all evidence it has become clear in the last year that many councillors have already made up their minds. It's not unreasonable for the author of this piece to presume the council have jumped the gun. As far as some were concerned Oakfield was on a plate to developers and therefore Councillor Sharma's claims have been exposed for what they are, nothing but false propaganda. Why else claim 'overwhelming support' when according to these figures at least this is far from the case.

  5. Sadly it seems the posters here have trouble reading reports. Proposal are just that, proposals, they are not definite and are recommendations after the consultation. Even if the changing rooms were to be improved does anyone actually think that would happen before the playing pitch strategy is published? (By the beginning of Jan). The report on the consultation for GPE had to recommend an outcome, which it has. I've also read and heard several times that legislation states any pitches lost to development have to be re provided to an equal or better standard, so who would actually lose out? No one, this is the usual nimbyism, as demonstrated by the post in dividing the Borough North to South, as though crossing Eastern Avenue requires Moses to part the cars so people can get to the playing fields on either side.

    If Oakfields is built on its no different to the area your own homes were built on, they were also green spaces, and this will happen unless we, collectively say no to all development. No to Tower blocks in the already congested South, no to houses split into flats, no to every type of development. If you can't say that, then why not build on Oakfields? You can play football in one of the many parks, or a new ground elsewhere on the Green belt.

    Of all the potential sites, and I'm against any more developing in an already over polluted and congested Borough, Oakfield makes the 'most' sense as it will be houses with gardens and not more flats, is close to tube stations, shopping parade and Schools.

    If people want to spend their time dividing the Borough into us and them, and see subterfuge around every corner it'll achieve nothing. The reality is the Council is under pressure from targets, but in all honesty money, and if we want to protect the Borough in its entirety, not as nimbus on single cause campaigns, then it requires a collective approach to pressure government now.

  6. Don't be so nieve Jack the council were going ahead with their plans for Oakfield despite having no plan to replace like for like, until sport England confirmed they would oppose it. You throw out 'nimby' as a slur on anyone concerned about what's happening and whilst I have very personal concerns I can tell you I have written to every Councillor asking about traffic, pollution, loss of facilities etc and how they will make it work should it go through. Guess what not one reply except from those who oppose it. I was prepared to listen to a reasonable argument other than build build build but have heard nothing. I'll take your Nimby name calling, all it signifies is that I'm concerned about the area in which my family and I live although it does make me wonder about your own agenda?

    1. Joyce O'Reason8:25 pm, December 17, 2015

      Its National Planning Policy to replace like for like or better..nothing to do with Sport England.
      Its always been a suspicion many appose this under the cloak of losing pitches and sports clubs...the first thing to be mentioned in the above list is Traffic,pollution etc I think the real reason is starting to show and people couldnt care less about cricket or football,I bet most dont even live in Redbridge who play.
      Jack Silver appears see beyond this...understands the benefit to the economy and our future families/community who want to live and socialise in Barkingside.We lose a few pitches but look at what investment might domino from it,quality restaurants,shops that sell goods for more than 99p..with excellent transport,why would you need a car?ooh less polution and traffic..everything you could ever need on your door step or within minutes of London by train.
      All for the price of a few men and women kicking a bit of leather around.
      Ask the FA to buy the land in the name of football (some hope),resist change and we will end up with sweet FA and be finally swallowed up by 99p and charity shops forever.

    2. It seems Joyce does not have children, nor care for their health. The members of the football and cricket clubs on Oakfield are most predominantly from Redbridge. There are 12 full size football pitches, double that for smaller pitches for the children from under 7s to under 16s - there are also older youth teams. There are four cricket squares used by hundreds of children too. The ground is used by schools too. This is a callous attack on the young people of Redbridge as well as the thousands of rate paying residents who use the facilities including the community halls. If moved under the National Planning Policy Framework the location must be equally accessible - where?

    3. Barkingside High Street is merely responding to the market conditions created by the existing population who, by and large, do not shop, dine or socialise there. What makes Joyce O'Reason think that extra newcomers will be any different?

    4. Colin, my only agenda is that we consider, as residents, the Borough as a whole. I've said I am against all development, because there isn't the planned associated increase in GPs, road improvement, public transport or Schools. In addition I think over development of 'brown fields' within current residential areas is also wrong as it just increases density in already overpopulated areas and causes social problems because parking is never considered on these roads nor is the pressure on infrastructure.

      Hence why I abhor the hypocrisy of the save Oakfield campaign, I don't see them say a word about areas around Goodmayes and Seven kings which are greenbelt and in the draft local plan, not a word when School grounds were built on, such as Mayfield Schools playing fields years ago, no it's nimby, because it is nimbyism. The hypocrisy extends to Oakfield becuase it is one of few places which can provide houses not flats, can have gardens, is next to public transport, is in an area of relatively lower density and could facilitate a medical centre and maybe a School. The argument around traffic and pollution is a joke, as the current users of Oakfield all arrive by car, and if pollution is such a concern then that is the responsibility of everyone, stop driving and start walking or cycling.

      Mr Nutt talks about cricket squares, but cricket was re provided at another site in the Borough. But I am glad he is coming round to the idea and is open to considering other sites as he asks 'where', because there are plenty of real greenbelt locations where pitches could be located, and they can be just as accessible, although my preference would be that it was by foot and bike, not car.

  7. Just to say, hopefully to clarify, our SOS members include the London CPRE and the Green Party candidate as well as hundreds of local residents who are not involved in sport. Indeed, we have made forceful representations about the Green Belt generally as well as infrastructure and pollution issues for the whole of the Barkingside / Hainault area. We are concerned to keep open space, playing fields and community facilities in the community and, as Jack rightly says, within walking distances. The facilities serve the whole Borough. The 'Save Oakfield' title does not mean that we are myopic, but if we lose Oakfield then no part of the green open spaces and associated recreation and community facilities are safe - anywhere (including GPE!).