Friends of Pinder Meadow (FoPM) was formed by a group of local residents following the withdrawal of the first planning application by Eastcote Hockey Club (EHC) to construct a second all-weather pitch, complete with high fencing and tall floodlights on King’s College Playing Fields.
In response to a second application by Eastcote Hockey Club, FoPM organised a petition signed by nearly 4,500 Hillingdon residents and submitted a detailed letter of objection to the Council. Following a recommendation for rejection by council officers, EHC withdrew this scheme.
Meanwhile, FoPM has become increasingly involved in protecting and maintaining the whole length of Pinn Meadows. Regular working parties are organised to clear the area of litter, help keep the riverbank and drainage channels from becoming overgrown, plant new trees and sow wildflowers.
FoPM has taken part in wildlife projects such as bat walks and butterfly surveys. The group secured to £22,600 of Chrysalis funding to initiate practical improvements such as improved year-round access, extra benches, litter bins, bird and bat boxes, and an interpretation board.
Eastcote Hockey Club submitted a third application in November 2012 with additional documents added during the early months of 2013. This time FoPM presented a petition against the scheme signed by some 5,595 local people. This was delivered to councillor Catherine Dan on the steps of Uxbridge Civic Centre on 8 February. On Thursday 28 February 2013 Friends Of Pinn Meadow Vice Chairman, Mike Grimmel, took the opportunity afforded by Hillingdon’s local democracy provisions for group submitting petitions with over 2,500 signatories to address a meeting of the whole council – and a packed public gallery.
in an effort to put an end to the hockey club’s campaign designed to wear down opposition to their appropriating a significant swathe of public open space, FoPM collected over 5,000 signatures on a second petition calling on Hillingdon Council to have the area listed as a Village Green, a move which would have afforded Pinn Meadows powerful legal protection in perpetuity. The petition was turned down.
About the issues
FoPM is not against sport, nor against hockey. The main issue at stake here is a loss of public amenity. The hockey club’s plans for a second all-weather pitch would entail not only installing an artificial grass surface but a 4.5 m high perimeter fence, 15 m high floodlights and additional parking for 29 cars – an unacceptable intrusion into an area specifically highlighted in Hillingdon Council’s own landscape character assessment.
FoPM is opposed to the loss of open space which is currently freely accessible to all residents regardless of age or activity level. Fencing off a large and prominent area of the playing fields would restrict access only to those who are either members of the club or who have paid a fee to enter.
The development would also have a significant negative impact on the area’s established vegetation and wildlife, entirely contrary to Hillingdon Council’s latest Green Spaces policy. Habitats will be destroyed or impaired and the scheme would involve the loss of mature trees
Which do you prefer?
The club has not demonstrated there is demand for another specialist hockey pitch – despite the club’s insistence that the second Astro pitch would be a community asset. In fact, what is intended is designed only for playing hockey at match level, and significantly is not suitable for anything more than kickabout soccer.
The intended site is in a maximum flood risk zone which would make the pitch vulnerable to regular damage and liable to expensive repairs. There is also serious concern about construction close to and directly opposite the existing pitch increasing the danger of flooding nearby houses.
A second pitch would double the traffic in an already congested area. People living nearby would also be affected by additional noise and light pollution – an issue with the existing pitch.