Warley Playing Fields to be secured for recreation

Warley playing fields are set to be given permanent status as recreation land in order to help pave the way for the development of a £7million pavilion and play development in nearby King George’s playing fields.

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

But the plans also include a soft play centre and a TAGactive arena – a gamified indoor obstacle course for youngsters.

The council predicts the two schemes will bring in a combined income of nearly £500,000, more than a third of the total income expected to be earned by a wholly-owned company running the new development once it is complete.

But Fields in Trust, the legal custodian of King George’s playing field, which since 1951 has had the type of recreation on it restricted by a covenant drawn up as part of a lasting memorial to George V, says indoor activity runs contrary to the covenant and conditions on the land that ensures it will be used for open air recreation.

The council is now proposing to remove the pavilion footprint from the current Deed of Dedication in King George’s Playing Fields, to reallocate it to land within Warley Playing Fields.

Fields in Trust has advised that the “removal of the pavilion footprint will assist in the longer term operational management of the site in respect of ongoing lease arrangements and the requirement to come back to Fields in Trust each time in respect of a change of lease”.

The Fields in Trust guidance sets out that: “Any consent granted by Fields in Trust is conditional upon you obtaining the necessary planning permission through the local planning authority.

“It is possible to apply for planning permission before contacting Fields in Trust, or after obtaining our consent, or for both applications to run concurrently.

“In certain cases, we may ask you to obtain planning permission before we assess your proposal. We would also like to know about the outcomes of any consultation you have undertaken about your proposal. Even if there have been objections it will not necessarily mean we will withhold our consent.”

Discussions with Fields In Trust came after the council approved planning approval last week to replace the existing pavilion with a new structure.

Officers have been informed that the Fields in Trust’s next committee meeting is due on February 25, where it will consider the change application form in relation to King George’s playing fields now that planning permission has been granted.

In the meantime the council is also battling Hartswood Golf Club, which still has 13 years left on its lease for the club house, which the council needs to demolish to make way for its new plans

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, says the proposals being offered are not sufficient.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]