News Shopper3 15/2/06

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Football team is praying for pitch

FootBallers

Freddie Norbury, seven, and Joseph Naylor, eight, hope their team can secure a new home GC2870-07

ONE of London's oldest junior football clubs could hold the key to saving an under-threat sports field.

Villacourt Rovers who have been homeless since 2001 want to make the Gaelic Athletic football ground, Avery Hill Road, New Eltham, their new home.

The club's under-eight team coach Stuart Stotesbury contacted News Shopper, angry about the state of the field.

He said: "It drives me bonkers grounds such as this are left to rot.

"There is nowhere for the kids to go and play sport."

The 53-year-old club has been using park pitches since the lease expired on their home ground in Manor Way, Blackheath.

Nine other sports groups have shown an interest in using the site since News Shopper's story last week.

Chairman of action group Residents' Against Gaelic Environmental Destruction Malcolm Bond said: "This proves the point there are people out there who want to use this ground."

11:42am Tuesday 14th February 2006

Villacourt Rovers Football Club Submission

Stuart Stotesbury

Hon. General Secretary - Villacourt Rovers Football Club

I have spoken with the current owners of the field, The Gaelic Athletic Association and have found out that a pre contract has been signed in sum of £6 million with property developers called Novalong Limited.

Greenwich Council are proposing in their Unitary Development Plan (UPD) to change the use of this field from green-land to mixed use which will see the destruction of this land will enable Novalong to develop the site into 261 houses.

The closing date for objections to the UPD was 15/2/06 at 17.00hrs and RAGED (the Residents Against Gaelic Environmental Destruction) together with local sports clubs wishing to use this site have put forward over 500 objections.

We have also written to Greenwich Council advising of our objections and would like to point out the following:

Villacourt Rovers were established in 1953 and has always served the local community as well as other boroughs since this date and were originally based at Manor Way in Blackheath. We were members of the residentís association active in the area when we were based at Manor Way and had a good relationship with them and also with residents living close to the ground. In fact we had many sons of residents joining the club over the years and some of the fathers actually became managers. We and our members club believe it imperative for local residents and people of the borough to continue to enjoy the use of green-land space and would like the opportunity of speaking with the Gaelic Athletic Association with a view of working with the local residents to reestablish this disused playing field into something that the borough can be proud of.

We, as a club affiliated to the London Football Association (LFA) currently have between 150-200 members who strongly oppose the changes to the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) that will affect the site owned by The GAA at Avery Hill, SE9.

We have written to Greenwich Council objecting to the proposal and have also contacted the Gaelic Athletic Association with a view of purchasing or leasing the site should planning permission be rejected.

Great Britain is proudly hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012 and we as a country should be doing everything we can to ensure that as much green-land space is kept and utilised to its full potential to ensure that the children of the tomorrow have plenty of facilities to use in the future. It does however anger me that all you see in the news these days is the government moaning that children are suffering from obesity and anti-social behavioural problems yet local governments seem to be doing everything in their power to take away green-land space which has a detrimental effect to the children. Not only can green-land space be used for exercise but also a child belonging to a youth/football club or any other club for the matter is more likely to learn the social skills that are needed in society today.

What is the likelihood of Greenwich Council declaring that the disused sports field at Avery Hill will not get planning permission now or in the future thus negating the chances of companies such as Novalong being able to sign pre-contract agreements (subject of course to planning permission) therefore allowing clubs such as Villacourt Rovers the opportunity of negotiating terms with a view to purchase/lease grounds such as these ensuring that green-land spaces do not disappear from under our feet?

If nothing is done to stop property developers from bullying residents there will soon be no green-land areas for the people of forthcoming years to enjoy.

I wondered whether you'd be interested in running an article on this as I am positive that this is happening all over the country.

 

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