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Will new plan end Barnard Park pitch battle?

Town Hall release latest design for Barnard Park that would mean replacing 11-a-side surface with floodlit, 7-a-side, artificial pitch

31 March, 2017 — By Joe Cooper

Artist’s impression of the revamped park

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to slash the amount of space given over to sport in Barnard Park is a step closer after the Town Hall’s latest design was made public.

The current 11-a-side pitch, which is in a poor state, would be replaced by a floodlit, 7-a-side, artificial pitch, allowing for new paths, grassy areas, picnic tables and a barbecue area.

The authority has secured £850,000 for changes at the park. The new pitch would be owned by Islington Council and operated by social enterprise GLL in the same way pitches such as Market Road are.

Councillors delayed making a decision last summer on a similar application due to the amount of space cut from the football pitch.

The Friends of Barnard Park backed that plan, but it was opposed by Sport England, Copenhagen Youth Project, the Football Association and Arsenal in the Community. The new plan has a concess­ion to those who prioritise space for sport. A grassy area will have a fence and a smaller sports pitch.

The council has met Sport England officials to iron out objections.

Papers submitted to the Town Hall accept that: “On the basis of the borough’s own evidence and Sport England’s analysis, it can be concluded that there will be a general shortfall in outdoor sports provision.”

But equally, they add: “There is some doubt as to whether the current redgra area at Barnard Park can be considered to constitute ‘existing formal sports provision’. It may better described as ‘informal provision’, as there is no booking system and very limited management of the space.” If this is accepted, the proposal for the new 7-a-side pitch could be regarded as a net gain in formal sports provision.

Comments on the application can be made until Tuesday, April 11. Planning reference: P2016/1109/FUL.

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