Council planners again rule that case not made for its eviction
Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club before lockdown. Picture: Visit Gunnersbury
October 30, 2020
Another attempt by the community interest company that manages Gunnersbury Park (CIC) to replace the Bowls Club in the park with a pitch and putt facility looks set to fail.
Hounslow Council planners have said they are likely to refuse an application for a change of use on the club house building and an extension at the rear and floodlighting and fencing for the planned Putt in the Park replacement.
The application met with 45 objections from residents who argued that the low membership of the club alleged by park management was misleading because it failed to take account of visitors and closure of the club would have a disproportionate impact on the elderly.
The Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum made a submission in which they pointed out what they said were some inaccuracies in documents supplied by the applicant.
They said, "Supporting the Bowls Club to become stronger and more sustainable could be a significant opportunity for the CIC to demonstrate its community values in maintaining an activity which has operated in the Park since 1931. It is wrong to treat the club with contempt for failing to meet the CIC’s requirements. In the view of the Friends, the Bowls club deserves support from the CIC to gather the expertise to help it to move forward and play its part in the future of the estate."
Other comments said that the club had been maintained at no cost to members and a development plan had been put to the CIC but this was rejected for no clear reason.
The Club says it is actively trying to increase membership and believes that with newly completed sports hub it could generate a significant income stream, despite being less profitable than the putting facility because of its lower cost.
The council planning department determined that insufficient evidence had been presented by the CIC to demonstrate that the existing use is no longer required.
The bowls club has occupied the site since 1931. Club members say they were given verbal assurances by the CIC that their presence in the park was valued. However, towards the end of last year the CIC stated that given ‘the relatively small and declining numbers who have exclusive use of the facility’ they were exploring new uses for the green. The members say that they were refused permission by the CIC to use the green for practice after lockdown was eased on the grounds that it was too dangerous.