Legal showdown looms over £7m playing fields revamp in Warley

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A showdown in court over plans to revamp a playing field between an historic Brentwood golf club and the council is looking increasingly likely.

Brentwood Borough Council wants to invest more than £7million in a major revamp of the King George’s Playing Fields in Warley – including a new pavilion building, splash pad and a new outdoor adventure play area.

However, Hartswood Golf Club, which has exclusive use of a clubhouse due to be demolished as part of the plans, says no effort has been made to mitigate the loss of that facility, which still has 13 years to run on a 60-year lease.

Despite warning the council it was serious about its claims since the summer, the council has now published its formal plans.

But according to the club the plans do not provide satisfactory alternatives.

A spokesman said: “According to our solicitor we have a water tight case and quite frankly that has not been contested by the other side at all.

“We are at the point where we are saying to them unless we make some positive progress by the end of this year then we will take legal action.”

The club, which has about 80 members, has exclusive use of a large club room, bar and kitchen, including separate lockers and showers for men and women.

The latest plans provide four changing rooms for footballers and golfers and a club room that is a third of the size of what the club has at the moment – but which is separated from a larger area with a sliding partition door.

The spokesman added: “Nothing has been sorted with Hartswood Golf Club and we have gone to the lawyers – that is now between the two parties.

“They are asking us to give up our rights under a 60 years lease we hold – which has 13 years still to run.

“They have offered an amount of space which is about a third of the size of what we have at the moment.

“The talk as far as the council is concerned is the new building is for common use – we would not have as they  are suggesting any exclusively closed areas as we have at the moment.

“They have forced us into going to law and at the moment there is discussion going but because of the way Brentwood Borough Council have outsourced their technical departments, we are having to deal with a solicitor employed by Barking and Dagenham. That doesn’t help.”

He said the whole planning project may be deemed null and void if a court decides the council has no right to ignore the remaining lease.

The spokesman added: “It is entirely up to the council. If we went for an injunction they would not be able to proceed with anything that would involve the demolition of the present building.

“And they cannot build this new project without demolishing ours as it stands at the moment.”

Brentwood Borough Council was approached for comment.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter

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