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Luxury flats plans for Mansfield Bowling Club branded 'criminal' as planning is refused

PUBLISHED: 15:21 08 July 2013 | UPDATED: 15:47 08 July 2013

Campaigners have welcomed Camden Council's decision to refuse planning permission for a controversial development at Mansfield Bowling Club in Dartmouth Park. Pictured (from left) Keith Northrop, Val Day, Helen Greave, Nick Norden, Wendy Shale, Patrick Lefevre, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and (front right) Paul Barker. Picture: Polly Hancock

Campaigners have welcomed Camden Council's decision to refuse planning permission for a controversial development at Mansfield Bowling Club in Dartmouth Park. Pictured (from left) Keith Northrop, Val Day, Helen Greave, Nick Norden, Wendy Shale, Patrick Lefevre, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and (front right) Paul Barker. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A controversial plan to redevelop a bowling club's land was branded "criminal" and nothing but a money-spinner by councillors who voted unanimously to reject the scheme.

An artist's impression of the proposed new Mansfield Bowling Club and leisure centre, which was refused planning permission by Camden CouncilAn artist's impression of the proposed new Mansfield Bowling Club and leisure centre, which was refused planning permission by Camden Council

The proposal to build on the Mansfield Bowling Club site in Croftdown Road, Dartmouth Park, was denied planning permission by Camden Council’s development control committee on Thursday (July 4).

The club, a private company, wanted to build eight luxury homes along with a new leisure centre and an indoor bowling arena, which would have led to the loss of the historic outdoor bowling green and two clay tennis courts.

They claimed the luxury homes were necessary as an “enabling” development to raise money for the rest of the scheme.

The club’s directors insisted their primary aim was to benefit the community, but councillors were scathing about their motives.

Cllr Sally Gimson, who represents Highgate ward, told the committee: “I think it’s disingenuous to say that the driver for this is anything else but money.

“This is a money-making scheme that will make millions and millions of pounds and I don’t see at all that it’s any kind of enabling scheme for the club.

“Having this luxury development, you will lose all that open space, you will lose tennis courts and a bowling club, and that is space which has been in community use for 140 years. To lose that would be totally criminal.”

Kenlyn Lawn Tennis Club, in Croftdown Road, which was founded in 1919, would have also lost use of the two clay tennis courts placing its future in jeopardy.

Although the land is privately owned, it has been designated as an “asset of community value” by the council.

The decision was met with jubilation by many who have campaigned to protect the open space, including author Julian Barnes who backed the fight against the plans last November.

But Paul Barker, chairman of Mansfield Neighbours Group, which was set up in 2011 to fight the plans, acknowledged the battle may not be over.

He said: “It was a famous victory and democracy in action.

“It’s very important that pieces of open greenery in London should be protected and kept.

“They should be maintained and if they fall out of use, they should be given another use, but we should not build houses on them.”

In a statement issued on Friday (July 5), Mansfield Bowling Club’s director Adrian Pruss accused the town hall of getting “in the way of community benefit”.

He said: “The members of Mansfield Bowling Club and many of its immediate neighbours are obviously very disappointed at this decision.

“The financial situation of the club has not changed and we are now considering our position regarding the future of the site.”

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