London South Bank University Sports Field, Turney Road
The Society has been told that the London South Bank University is likely to cease active management of their Sports Ground in Turney Road in the very near future. The ground is currently leased from the Dulwich Estate and the lease has seven years still remaining.
The LSBU Clubhouse Manager has confirmed that the ground staff expect to be made redundant shortly with the ground closing w/c 30 August. If the ground remains closed for the duration of the lease, it will be made secure and a minimum amount of maintenance will take place to keep it from becoming totally overgrown and run down.
Andy Powlesland, Director, Academy of Sport, at the university has informed the Turney Road Residents Association (TRRA) and other site users that a consultation period is under way which will end on 31 August. At the end of this period it will be decided what will happen to the ground. Apparently it is no longer financially viable for the University to keep the ground open for the remainder of the lease - this would cost the university in excess of £1 million. Mr Powlesland has told site users that it was extremely difficult to use the facilities at the ground to their full potential, due to local restrictions and local opposition to the use of, for example, floodlit pitches, artificial surfaces and late licences for the bar. These are potential areas which could increase the profitability of the ground and its facilities but have not been an option for the university. They feel that it is not justifiable for them to provide sports facilities for local clubs who are based mainly in the Lambeth and Southwark areas. Students no longer use the facility. There are now no University sports teams who play at the ground. From the university's perspective, this makes it unreasonable for them to keep the ground open, given the cost that would be involved in doing so.
Mr Powlesland has said he was not at liberty to disclose whom the university is in consultation with and it is unclear whether the consultation process involves parties who may be interested in taking the lease over. He raised the possibility of the grounds re-opening sometime after Christmas with someone else taking over the lease. At present this must be treated as pure speculation.
The encouraging news is that one of the cricket clubs has told us that a consortium of major site users including the cricket clubs, football and schools’/LSBU sports’ sections has met in the past couple of weeks and agreed to develop a business plan to manage the site. The University has been open with their financials to the consortium who believe that LSBU would welcome a formal approach to run the site. The consortium is meeting with legal advisers, Southwark Council and LSBU to actively progress their plan but it is early days. At this stage it is unclear whether the proposal is financially viable or indeed, will be acceptable to the Dulwich Estate.
The TRRA have asked the site manager and cricket club chairs to keep them posted of developments, and confirmed that residents would welcome a continuation of sports at the ground – to avoid the grounds lying fallow and at risk of being fenced off, poorly maintained and insecure.
Local councillors have been approached and are taking an active interest. The Society has also contacted the Dulwich Estate who have stated that they are not aware of LSBU’s proposed departure.
The most favourable outcome would be for the Sports Ground to be taken over by a consortium of current users who would maintain the current position of an actively used and well maintained Sports Ground.