Uphill battle to save much-loved Marylebone playground

Campaigners are locked in a row with Westminster Council over plans to build flats on the site of a much-loved playground in Marylebone.

The application, put forward this week, proposes demolition of the park space outside Luxborough Tower in Luxborough Street to make way for a new tower block.

Following a two-year dispute between the council and local residents, the proposal marks the final struggle for campaigners who have been fighting an uphill battle to save one of the few green spaces in the area.

Yael Saunders, Luxborough Street resident and chairman of the Marylebone Safer Neighbourhoods Team ward panel, organised the “Save Our Space” campaign in 1999, when whispers of the development first spread.

Although the council lists the park as “protected open space”, residents say there has been little indication that the land will be saved.

“Everyone was quite shocked they’ve [the council] not listened to any of the consultations,” said Mrs Saunders.

“The council still claim it is disused land despite the fact that it is quite clearly being used as a playground.

Most Read

“I would much rather see a bunch of teenagers kicking a ball around and being healthy than lurking on a street corner because they’ve been kicked out.”

Children from nearby St Vincent’s Primary School use the playground regularly, and families in the area have made use of the park for more than a decade.

Mother of two, Sandra Romito, 38, said: “I live in one of the flats in Luxborough Tower and we come here often. I think it’s important to preserve outdoor spaces in London.

“I’d be fine if they were getting planning permission to build a car park or convert a block of offices into flats, but it’s disgraceful that Westminster Council is taking away space for children.”

Westminster housing boss Cllr Jonathan Glanz said: “The aim of these proposals is to improve and enhance the area for all local residents and for the wider community of Westminster. By moving this playground to an alternative and nearby location, it would enable us to provide better local facilities and build much-needed housing.

“We are listening to the concerns of residents and will continue to do so through the process of the planning consultation to ensure that all views are taken into account.”