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Why Friends of Barnard Park fully back council’s plans

14 April, 2017

An artist’s impression of how Barnard Park will look after the redevelopment plans are completed

• WHILE the Friends of Barnard Park support the intent of Fred Reynolds’ letter (We’ll lose last pitch where we can play without paying, April 7), we are confused by his conclusion.

We all want to see a redevelopment of Barnard Park which benefits the local community and gives access to formal and informal sports facilities to young and not so young residents. The disagreement is about how to achieve this.

The Friends of Barnard Park, which represents all users of the park, wholeheartedly supports the present proposals by the council. These plans include not only the fourth largest 3G pitch in the borough but also a sports-grade grass area that will be available for formal and informal sports activity, including football, as well as recreation.

There is an apparent misunderstanding in Fred Reynolds’ letter. His letter implies that external funding and modernising the existing pitch would preserve the ability for children and adults to turn up and play without booking and for free. This is not true.

There will be charges for the use of a new pitch to offset the additional costs of maintaining a formal sports facility, as well as some free bookable time for community groups and play. The Friends will encourage as much free community usage as possible.

What the FA and RFU are seeking is a full size 11-a-side destination formal football 3G pitch. Again free play would be limited and possible damage to the surface would restrict activity on it.

A modern pitch of this size and presence would over-dominate the available space, completely change the nature and feel of the park as a community park and adversely impact its biodiversity.

Contrary to what is envisaged by the letter of April 7, it would also displace local residents who now use the existing pitch for many different activities and who in the council plan will be able to use the new grass area instead.

This green space can be used for children’s games, picnicking, events, keep fit, sitting in the sun, kicking a ball around as well as five-a-side football matches.

That’s why we support the council’s current proposal which is the right solution and beneficial for all user groups. It is a versatile plan which has evolved from two comprehensive community consultations at considerable cost.

Islington has come up with proposals which reflect those community interests, the need to preserve green space and to provide sport, recreation and leisure facilities for all on both a formal and informal basis.

DIANNE BROWNING, LIS HOWELL, JO MURRAY and JOHN SCHOLES
Friends of Barnard Park

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