Councillors in Wandsworth will be asked later this week to give their backing to ambitious proposals to improve sports and leisure facilities on Tooting Common and safeguard the future of children’s play activities at the Tooting Triangle.
On Thursday councillors will be asked to approve plans to replace the existing outdoor artificial sports pitch at the Triangle site.
The adjacent buildings would also be revamped, modernised and combined to offer changing rooms, showers, a café, publicly available toilets and a children’s recreation and play area, including an extended outdoor play area.
The existing all-weather pitch at The Tooting Triangle
As part of the plans, part of the new larger 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 proposals are for some really excellent sports, leisure and recreational facilities at the Tooting Triangle.
“The scheme would see the replacement of its outdated and now frankly obsolete artificial playing surface, plus an improved and permanent home for the boxing club, allowing it to build on all the good community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.
“It would also mean bigger and better facilities for young families in this part of the borough, meaning parents would be able to continue bringing their children, toddlers and babies to enjoy activities at the Triangle in the years to come.
“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.”
The Triangle’s existing all-weather 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 allow longer playing times for local, schools, clubs and teams
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.
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.”