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We are dismayed that the Secretary of State for Environment has given consent for a refurbished sports zone on Clapham Common. The applicant was Lambeth Council and the works comprise resurfaced courts, three-metre high fencing, floodlight columns and bicycle racks, benches and litterbins.
Says Jeremy Clyne, our local correspondent for the London Borough of Lambeth:
‘While the Open Spaces Society acknowledges the need for sports facilities, we are alarmed that permission has been granted for this scheme.
‘The casework officer, Mr Richard Holland, recognises that the floodlighting and fencing “will cause some harm to the appearance of the common” and that the floodlighting is an “alien feature which will intrude to some extent into the night-time landscape”. Further he admits that the fencing will restrict public access. Yet despite all this the Planning Inspectorate has allowed this proposal to go ahead.
‘The society believes that this enclosed and floodlit sports area, with eight 12-metre high floodlights and three-metre high fences, is excessive and inappropriate for a common. Indeed, one objector referred to the fencing as being “more suitable to a detention centre”.
‘The development is close to an area of the common already heavily overused for major events which are having an increasingly damaging effect. We consider that this proposal will add to the creeping urbanisation of Clapham Common, and further diminish its natural character.
‘To say, as Lambeth Council has done, that three-metre-high fencing has been used in other parks in Lambeth is missing the point. Clapham Common is not a “park”.
Jeremy continues: ‘Moreover, concerns have been expressed about the effect on wildlife and yet no independent assessment has been carried out, or required by the Planning Inspectorate, on the impact on statutorily-protected species such as bats.
‘This is a sad day for Clapham Common.’