Council treating Globe tennis club in same way it treated Queen’s Crescent Market, claims former association chairman

Queen's Crescent Market, which was run by a community association between 2013 and 2015. Picture: PO

Queen's Crescent Market, which was run by a community association between 2013 and 2015. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

The controversy over a Belsize Park tennis club’s lease echoes that of Queen’s Crescent Market, according to the former head of the association which ran it.

Mick Farrant, chair of Queen’s Crescent Community Association for the 30 months that the QCCA ran the market, claims Camden Council’s refusal to issue a fresh three-year lease spelled the end of the association’s tenure of the market.

It echoes the furore surrounding the new lease for the Globe Lawn Tennis Club on Haverstock Hill, where the council insists on including a three-year break clause in the new lease. While the council has denied having its eye on the site, the club’s committee has stressed that the break clause itself poses an “existential” threat to the Globe. Members have said that the Lawn Tennis Association, from which it receives the bulk of its funding, won’t support any club without a guaranteed minimum lease.

And according to Mr Farrant, this was the case for the Kentish Town market.

“The sticking issue was the three-year lease,” he said “QCCA had a grant from a charity lined up of £40,000 per year for three years but only if it had a three-year contract.Thus what was a thriving and growing market with some 50 stalls is now reduced to between eight and 15.

“We trained unemployed people to run the market and it did wonders for the local community. Now look at it. My guess is that [the council] are desperate to sell off their assets; we think Camden Council wish to see the shops converted into housing.”

But Cllr Theo Blackwell, cabinet member responsible for planning, disagreed. “As part of the huge budget cuts in 2012, Camden was keen the market was run by QCCA at lower cost to the taxpayer,” said Cllr Blackwell, whose Gospel Oak ward includes Queen’s Crescent. “This experiment was brokered by local councillors. Unfortunately after two years of success, QCCA decided they couldn’t afford to run the market anymore and sadly the council just can’t afford to give it the public subsidy QCCA then wanted for this relationship to continue.”