Thursday, February 23, 2017

Oakfield – Council Roasted by Sport England, FA and ECB

In written submissions to the Redbridge Local Plan, Sport England, the Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board have criticised the council’s plans to relocate the established first class pitch facilities currently at the Oakfield site to the Hainault Recreation Ground and Forest Road Playing Fields, known locally as “the bog” due to flooding from the Seven Kings Water stream.

This comes after a recent “Institute of Groundsmanship” report, dictated commissioned by the council, concluded that revised layouts at the proposed new venues could provide additional capacity, although it is unclear if they were confused with the proposed new swimming pool.

However, the FA’s facilities and investment manager, Mark Liddiard, cried foul: “The FA disagrees with this statement because it is already heavily used by existing users so it is unclear where they would be relocated to.”

Pointing to the penalty spot he continued: “the FA remain unconvinced” that improvements to the pitches will result in increased capacity, and the proposed sites “cannot physically accommodate” the additional pitches that would be required if the Oakfield clubs were to move there.

Sport England’s planning manager and pundit, Mark Furnish, described the proposal as an “own goal” as it “intensifies the use of existing sites” rather than a direct brand new replacement as required under Planning Policy & Guidance rules. The ECB’s facilities and investment manager, Chris Whitaker, declared the proposals were not “achievable or realistic”.

All three sporting bodies were united in complaining that they had not been consulted on the report or invited to participate in its production and that there were “no grounds” for the council’s proposed action.

Coming in to bat for the council, on a sticky wicket, Jas Athwal insisted that the plans were viable and that everyone will live happily ever after once Oakfield is developed, citing the increasing demand for £1miilion+ homes in our borough and that we have to house these people somewhere.

Meanwhile Save Oakfield Society campaigner, Howard Berlin said: “It gets worse for Redbridge Council. They are stumped. Even if they get Oakfield out of Green Belt, they have nowhere of similar quality to relocate the pitches to. They will pay the penalty”.

Whether or not these fabricated “reports” in an age of fake news and alternative facts stand up to the scrutiny of other interested bodies is another matter, and then there is the Planning Inspector, the London Mayor and the Secretary of State.


  1. Bravo, lovely article. Well written, funny and informative

  2. Is there a link to the IOG Report?

    1. It should be on the council website with all the other LDF docs.

  3. London Sport, the Mayor's body for Sport, and The London Playing Field Foundation Trust have also sent in objections - mounting up, innit!