Controversial cricket club plans approved
Charlotte Newton CONTROVERSIAL plans to transform a 135-year-old cricket ground into a major sporting facility have been approved by Haringey councillors. Permission was granted on Tuesday night for two hard grass courts and six multi-use games areas at t
CONTROVERSIAL plans to transform a 135-year-old cricket ground into a major sporting facility have been approved by Haringey councillors.
Permission was granted on Tuesday night for two hard grass courts and six multi-use games areas at the overgrown North Middlesex Cricket Ground in Park Road, Crouch End.
The issue has divided residents and the sporting community since the proposals were first unveiled by the leaseholder Chris Hadji-Panayi, of Sport Club UK Ltd, earlier this year.
The seemingly uncontroversial application sparked uproar among almost 200 residents living in Wood Vale, Cranley Gradens and Park Road, who bitterly opposed the plans.
Clifford Tibber, chairman of the North Middlesex Cricket Ground which leases the site to the applicant, urged councillors to approve the plan.
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He said: "We as a cricket club don't have money to develop the site and it would be a crying shame if that land was not used.
"There are precious little sporting facilities available in the borough."
But a member of the Crouch End Open Space Protection Society (CREOS) and ward councillors spoke out against the application.
Mel Cairns of CREOS said that nearby residents were given just 14 days at the "height of the holiday period" to comment on an officer's report which supported the application.
He said: "We consider that not only is the scheme itself deeply flawed but also flawed is the handling of the planning process by council planning officers.
"These proposals amount to intense commercial exploitation of protected green space at the expense of community amenity."
He argued that the local infrastructure would be unable to cope with bus loads of children and parents coming to play and watch football, basketball and netball there.
Gail Engert Lib Dem councillor for Muswell Hill ward read out a statement on behalf of fellow ward councillor Jonathan Bloch because he was unable to attend.
Cllr Bloch said: "While the applicants can produce some signatures in support of their application on closer inspection it transpires that most of their supporters live outside the area."
At a highly charged planning meeting at Wood Green Civic Centre, five Labour councillors approved the plans while four Lib Dem councillors rejected them.
Theo Stavrinou, general manager at the grounds, said the upgrade was vital to the club's future because it cannot survive solely on cricket.
He also told the Broadway that hundreds of Haringey children will benefit from the improved sports facilities not just children from outside the area as opponents claimed.
The applicant has also offered to plant trees and shrubs to minimise noise.
Cricket will still be played on the grass pitch in summer - which is separate to the plans.
The site will be in use every day of the week from 8am to 6pm in winter (October to March) and 8am to 9pm in summer (April to September).
Members of the cricket club spoke of their relief that the application was approved after the meeting.
Tufnell Park resident Ronnie West, whose two sons are members of the North Middlesex Cricket Club, said: "I'm delighted for the people who run the pavilion and I'm delighted for the North Middlesex Club. I think this will be great for the area."
The application also includes plans to create four metre high nets around the games areas, a new gravel footpath, one metre high wall, 10 new benches for spectators, and underground rainwater collection tanks on the green open space.