The independent London newspaper

Government halts controversial Barnard Park revamp decision

25 August, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

The government has unexpectedly halted the Town Hall’s controversial decision to revamp Barnard Park, it emerged today.

The proposals, approved by planning chiefs in May, would see the current 11-a-side pitch, which is in a poor state, replaced by a floodlit 7-a-side artificial pitch, allowing for new paths, grassy areas, picnic tables and a barbecue area. The council has secured £850,000 for changes at the park.

The Friends of Barnard Park have backed the plans but the Copenhagen Youth Project, the Football Association (FA) and Arsenal in the Community oppose them because it entails the loss of the park’s full-size football pitch.

Government body Sport England also objected to the plans, so the final decision was with the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, who was yet to rule on the matter. It emerged today that the decision was “called in” by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington’s environment and transport chief, said: “We’ve received notification that the Secretary of State has called in our planning application for Barnard Park.

“We are of course disappointed. Islington is a densely populated and geographically small borough, and its parks are rightly very highly valued.

“There are differing views on this project, but following extensive discussions with the community and park users, we agreed a plan, with majority support, that sought to strike a reasonable balance so that Barnard Park could be enjoyed by all including parents, older people, footballers, children and young people and other park users. We want the park to meet diverse local needs.

“We are now carefully considering the detail of the call-in and our response.”

The Tribune is awaiting a response from DCLG.

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