Councillors have given their backing to far reaching proposals to improve the sports and leisure facilities at the Tooting Triangle and confirmed that organised stay and play sessions for young children and toddlers remain at the heart of future plans for the site.
Councillors last night reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the Triangle’s popular children’s facilities open and available to all local parents.
And they agreed that council-employed play staff will continue providing unchanged stay and play sessions at the venue until further notice.
The commitment forms a central part of the plans to upgrade and improve sports, leisure and recreational facilities on Tooting Common.
Also approved were proposals to replace the existing outdoor artificial sports pitch at the Triangle site.
The existing all weather floodlit pitches at the Triangle
The Triangle’s existing all-weather floodlit pitch, which covers an area of some 3,800 square metres, was first built on the common in the 1960s and is in desperate need of a complete overhaul. The playing surface is badly worn and is largely overlooked and ignored by local schools and sports clubs because it’s in such a poor state.
Under the proposals the existing artificial surface would be replaced with a new high-quality all-weather pitch which could be used for a range of different sports. Sensitive floodlighting would also be installed to replace the existing floodlights, which will allow longer playing times for local, schools, clubs and teams
The adjacent buildings would also be revamped, modernised and combined to offer changing rooms, showers, a café, publicly available toilets, and a larger indoor and outdoor children’s recreation and play area.
Another element of the scheme means that part of the new building will also be given over for use by The Balham Amateur Boxing Club which has been using the Triangle as its home since early 2009 when it was forced to quit its previous gym.
The council’s cabinet member for parks and open spaces Cllr Steffi Sutters said: ““These plans will ensure that not only does the Triangle get a new all-weather pitch and provide a permanent home to the local boxing club, it will also offer a bigger and better, secure and dog free play area for toddlers and young children, both indoors and outdoors.
“Parents and carers will still be able to bring their very young children to the Triangle and continue to enjoy the supervised play facilities and socialise with other mums, dads and toddlers from the area.
“Currently the building is only open for a couple of hours in the mornings three days a week. These plans will see the facilities available every day of the week, all day, from 8am into the early evening.”
“The scheme will also see the replacement of the Triangle’s outdated and now frankly obsolete artificial playing surface, plus an improved and permanent home for the boxing club, allowing it to build on all the good community work it does, especially with teenagers in the area.
“And with the introduction of a new café and public toilets that can be used by people visiting the common, this is good news for local people of all ages.”
Funding for these improvements will come from TFC Leisure Limited which will be offered a 25 year lease on the site for substantial investment in the new all-weather surface and improvements to the building.
This means these improvements can be provided at no cost to local council tax payers. The council would retain the freehold and remain in control of the site. TFC will also be required to continue providing the stay and play services at The Triangle when they commence their operations there.
Because the proposals relate to common land, the proposals will require planning permission, including consent from the Government’s planning inspectorate.
The council’s original plans for the Triangle, which would have included a nursery offering a full range of stay and play facilities, had to be withdrawn after a local businessman took the council to court to object to proposals for similar children’s facilities being provided at a vacant building on Wandsworth Common.
The council’s appeal against the original decision was subsequently rejected by the Court of Appeal.
Cllr Sutters added: “The very disappointing and regrettable verdict in that court case prevented us from pursuing our original plans for the Triangle, but we have come up with an alternative set of proposals which will still allow local parents and their young children to use and enjoy great play facilities there.”