Fears that deterioration of surface will make demise of club inevitable
Gunnersbury Park Bowling Club before lockdown. Picture: Visit Gunnersbury
February 13, 2021
The Gunnersbury Park Community Interest Company (CIC) have refused request from the Gunnersbury park Bowls Club to be granted immediate access to the site to carry out essential maintenance work on the bowls green.
The future of the club remains unclear after a Hounslow planning committee meeting decided to defer a decision on a planning application for the extension and change of use of the bowls pavilion in Gunnersbury Park to a cafe/restaurant. This would have resulted in the bowling green being converted in to a mini-golf course run by Putt in the Park. It is understood that the councillors opted for a deferral of the decision as they wanted time for an alternative location for the Pitch and Putt to be investigated.
Planning officers recommended the refusal of the planning application because of the loss of community amenity the bowls club closing would present.
It is now feared that if the club is not given access to the facility, the green will quickly deteriorate to an irreparable state and that a future planning decision would be pre-empted if the surface was unplayable.
The Bowls Club says it is not opposed to the principle of hosting Putt in the Park within Gunnersbury Park and it fully appreciates the CIC's need to generate income. However, in a situation where the Bowls Club is still viable and where alternative sites are available, the Club is implacably opposed to the loss of the bowls green.
The Bowls Club, supported by Brentford Voice, have asked the CIC to facilitate a meeting between the interested parties, including the CIC, local councillors, the Bowls Club, Brentford Voice, and the Friends of Gunnersbury Park.
Cllr Jo Biddolph said, “I am very disappointed that the CIC has dismissed the bowls club's reasonable request to prepare the bowls green for use this season. The club's members were unable to use the green last year, a very regrettable restriction given the benefits of playing bowls and the fact that it easily accommodates social distancing. Allowing them to use the green this year, if Covid-secure restrictions allow, would be a very welcome and community-minded act. I hope David Bowler will reconsider his decision.
“I am dismayed that no progress has been made towards setting up a formal consultative committee to give local residents and organisations a say in the management of the park. It is a public park but the public is being excluded from the decision-making process - and, now, from enjoying it. The bowls club has operated at no cost to the CIC and its membership is increasing. Being able to play bowls in Gunnersbury Park not only offers variety and a much-valued form of exercise but also gives pleasure to an increasingly ignored age group - older residents who deserve greater recognition. “
The CIC's response is awaited.
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