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Cricketers go in to bat for new pavilion

Row with neighbours over £500k park revamp as club hope development will attract next generation of players

25 June, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Cricketers at the pavilion in Wray Crescent park

CRICKETERS want the Town Hall to hit criticism of a new £500,000 pitch and pavilion for six – after neighbours said the green space should be used for other things.

The Tribune reported last week how residents close to Wray Crescent were upset that they had not been asked what should go in the park – suggesting ideas such as a paddling pool for young children or an area for yoga and tai chi.

But cricket teams have insisted that the pitch has always been used for their sport and claims of a “land grab” actually work the other way.

The row was triggered after Islington Council unveiled plans for an expensive revamp of Wray Crescent, part-funded by Sport England, the London Marathon Trust and the Carbon Offset fund.

As part of the proposals, a room in the pavilion will be used as a “multi-purpose community space”, but a group of residents say they want extra facilities devoted to more than just cricket.

An illustration of how the revamped Wray Crescent park could look

The cricket pitch is currently available to use from April to October and the council say there are no plans to change these times as part of the development, meaning other activities could take place in colder months.

Objectors, however, say they were not given the chance to share their views for consideration.

Pacific Cricket Club, who previously played in Tufnell Park until their pitch was turned over to be used for football, moved to Wray Crescent around 20 years ago.

Club secretary Peter Hollman said: “We have always had it in mind that the pavilion would be a community use building anyway. There have been various ideas of what to use it for.”

Mr Hollman has been secretary of Pacific Cricket Club since 1983. It is named after Kentish Town record company Pacific Records where he worked in the 1960s when his parents moved to Islington.

How Wray Crescent park currently looks

He added: “This isn’t a purely white, middle-class male thing at all. Anything but.

“Ideally we would want the kids back in there playing cricket so they can progress to play for a more social standard.”

Mr Hollman’s son Luke recently made his debut for Middlesex and has also represented England under-19s.

Pacific Cricket Club chairman Toby Chasseaud said: “A new pavilion will make Wray a better place to play and will encourage the next ­generation of cricketers.

“Since 2017, when the old structure was condemned, we have had to change outside. It has been difficult to prepare food, and we have had nowhere to shelter during rain showers.”

He added: “Many of our players suffered during the long months of winter lockdown and have since enjoyed the sense of purpose, camaraderie and exercise that cricket provides.

“We are a diverse club of players from all sorts of economic and ethnic backgrounds.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We are determined to create a greener, healthier Islington that is fairer for everyone, which is why we are committing £6.9million to improve our parks and green spaces over the next two years.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have only emphasised the importance of parks and green spaces as a resource for local people to enjoy for relaxation, leisure and sport.

“As a small, inner-city borough, there is not a great deal of available green space. We are therefore working to ensure that all available green spaces work as well as possible for local people, and have launched a consultation on our exciting plans for the Wray Crescent community and cricket building. Wray Crescent is Islington’s only cricket pitch, and the sport has been played there for many years.

“Our plans will help make the area a destination for young people and communities across our borough to play cricket locally, whilst also ensuring Wray Crescent can be used as a community space for everyone to enjoy.”

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