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Playing fields must offer more than a sports pitch

13 March, 2020

Tufnell Park Playing Fields

• I WRITE to express concern at Islington Council’s decision to resurface Tufnell Park Playing Fields, despite a costly drainage system being installed less than five years ago.

The council’s plan now, costed at approximately £750,000 (for installation, maintenance, repairs, replacement, and recycling over a short, eight-year, life span) is to inject nine tonnes of non-biodegradable synthetic yarn material into the soil in order to increase its already extensive use for sport to 30 hours a week (and possibly more during the summer months).

There has been no consultation with the residents of Tufnell Park, a diverse community, most of whom live in small flats close to or overlooking the fields. It is a densely populated area and very few residents have gardens.

Adults of all ages, young people and children, rely on the playing fields for many different leisure activities such as playing, reading, running, picnicking, walking, community gardening, exercising, relaxing, reflecting, and appreciating nature. These activities are widely regarded as beneficial to physical health and mental wellbeing.

Under the council’s plans the fields will be converted primarily into a sports pitch for the athletic and physically fit, to the exclusion of the majority of people from the local community.

In addition to the constraints on space, the plans will also have a huge impact on noise levels for users who are not participating in sports, including the large population of residents whose homes back on to the fields.

Many residents work from home or are confined indoors owing to physical and mental health problems or old age.

Increased pollution from the players and their supporters, including shouting, cheering, and whistle-blowing, will be detrimental to their work and their health. There are several other sports pitches nearby.

It is vital that this precious space retains its use as parkland for everyone, regardless of their age or physical abilities, for the full enjoyment of all.

I urge the council to listen to the diverse voices of Tufnell Park residents.

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