People power wins public inquiry
Charlotte Newton CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop a 134-year-old cricket ground will be heard in public after all, to the delight of residents and avid cricketers. Haringey Council announced yesterday (Wednesday) that despite having previously decided to he
CONTROVERSIAL plans to develop a 134-year-old cricket ground will be heard in public after all, to the delight of residents and avid cricketers.
Haringey Council announced yesterday (Wednesday) that despite having previously decided to hear the plans in secret, the planning committee will now decide in public whether the North Middlesex Cricket Ground can diversify.
The owners of the historic club in Park Road have applied to create seven multi-games areas with four-metre high nets, a new gravel footpath, one metre high wall, 10 new benches for spectators, and underground rainwater collection tanks, on the green open space.
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Haringey Council had said it would decide whether the unpopular and controversial changes to the well-loved ground would go ahead behind closed doors in "delegated powers" because it was Metropolitan Open Land.
But after 142 homeowners living in Cranley Gardens, Park Road and Wood Vale signed a petition, it has agreed to hold the meeting in public.
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Cllr Nilgun Canver, cabinet member for enforcement and safer communities told the Broadway: "In view of the strong feelings of residents and the petition, we have decided this matter should go to planning committee."
Resident Robert Yorke-Starkey of Cranley Gardens, organised the petition and is also a member of the cricket club. His younger son Charlie, 14, plays county cricket.
Mr Yorke-Starkey said: "This is a very emotive issue for me. Both my children play for the club and learned to walk there. I find the situation very uncomfortable. However, I'm delighted to see that the council has responded to pressure from the local community."
Another Cranley Gardens homeowner, Edmund Gordon, said: "This news is very welcome. Given the strength of opposition that's been recorded in the planning department by the local community, I think the council would have been unwise not to."
Theo Stavrinou, general manager at the grounds, has previously said the upgrade was vital to the club's future because it could not survive solely on cricket, tennis and bowls.
"We are trying to bring the area back to its former glory and to upgrade the dilapidated parts of the ground," he said. "We need to generate more money, we cannot rely on cricket and the English weather alone."
But the plans upset residents who fear that permitting football to be played on the grounds will create noise and bring hoards of people and cars into a quiet residential area.
They said that with the re-opening of the Hornsey Central Hospital this summer, Park Road would be unable to cope with more traffic.
Muswell Hill Cllr Jonathan Bloch said: "I welcome this decision by the council to hold it in public. It was unfathomable how this application which was so controversial could be decided by unelected officials. It's now up to all the residents to attend the meeting to state their views."
A date has not been set for the planning committee yet but a spokeswoman for the council said it would not be before September.
Anyone wishing to comment on the plans should go to www. planningservices.haringey.gov.uk and type in the reference HGY/2009/0723.