Impasse continues between Brentwood Council and golf club over pavilion plan

Work on an adventure play area and splash pad at King George’s Playing Fields is set to be completed by late summer.

But there is still no agreement between Brentwood Borough Council and a golf club which could block further development – despite pledges the matter would be solved weeks ago.

Work to revamp King George’s Playing Fields in Warley as part of a £7 million project is underway, and set to include a new pavilion building, splash pad and outdoor adventure play area.

Brentwood Borough Council is inviting residents to find out more about the scheme in an event on June 2.

Councillor Chris Hossack, leader of the council, said: “The scheme has started and the facilities that will be available offer something for everyone with the splash pad a particular favourite for all those who enjoyed the old paddling pools.

“This is a much-loved park and our residents and visitors speak of King George’s Playing Fields with great fondness across all generations.

“Many have played there themselves and now enjoy spending time there with their grandchildren. We are at the point now where the building work is well underway and the new scheme is starting to take shape.

“With more restrictions now lifted it is an ideal opportunity to come to the park and have a chat about what the new facilities will look like. We are looking forward to explaining more to residents on the day.”

But Hartswood Golf Club – which has exclusive use of a clubhouse due to be demolished as part of the plans to create the new pavilion – claim that no efforts have been made to mitigate the loss of that facility. It still has 12 years to run on a 60-year lease.

For more than two years the council has battled an impasse against what the club says is a “cast iron legal agreement preventing their eviction”.

Planning agreement for the pavilion states that the existing building be demolished within three months of the first occupation of any part of the new development.

The council said it had hoped an agreement would be struck by the end of March – a claim that was disputed by the club. The council has since confirmed the issue remains in the hands of lawyers.

The council says the new pavilion will offer the ability for flexible space – depending on the sport and use required. Special attention has been taken to ensure Changing Places changing facilities and a sensory room are included.

The scheme is being undertaken by Alliance Leisure as the council’s Leisure Development Partner, with contractor ISG to deliver the new pavilion building, soft play centre and TAG active arena this year.

Councillor Cliff Poppy, chair of community and health, said: “King George’s Playing Fields is a huge project that will be the pinnacle of the play areas we have been consistently refurbishing throughout the borough.

“King George’s toddler area has had a £150,000 upgrade with the same then following at River Road Play Park. Warley Playing Fields has had a £290,000 scheme installed with an outdoor gym.

“Courage Playing Fields had a £90,000 makeover and Hutton Recreation, North Road, Crescent Road, Ingrave Johnstone and Bishops Hall are set to benefit too.

“After the last year I think we all have an even deeper appreciation for our parks and what they offer everyone. In some ways this brand new scheme could not have come at a better time. I hope that many people manage to come down to see what the new range of facilities will look like.”

The event will take place at King George’s Playing Fields from 10am until 3pm on Wednesday, June 2.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter