Wray Crescent is the people's park
Wray Crescent is the people's park
We the undersigned petition the council to stop its plans to effectively turn Wray Crescent into a formal cricket pitch and to instead engage in a credible consultation with the Tollington community to develop the park in a way that reflects local need and ensures a more equal distribution of, and accessibility to, public funds and green space.
Islington, population 239,142, is one of the most densely populated UK boroughs with the lowest percentage of open space of any borough. Friends of the Earth claims 100% of Islington’s 23 neighbourhoods are green space deprived -- no other UK borough is equally deprived. There is a dire need to maintain or increase access to green space in Islington.
Despite this need, Islington Council is forging forward with plans to "re-establish Wray Crescent as the home for local cricket".
It is not clear when and how it was decided Wray Crescent would be the home of local cricket. That it has been used for this purpose in the past with the odd game of cricket every now and then, does not mean such use should dominate.
Far from re-establishing a lost home for cricket in Islington, current plans represent a cricket ‘mission creep’ in the park.
Islington claims the pavilion it hopes to build will support multiple sports and activities. However, the facts don’t seem to support this:
- The building design adheres to the England Cricket Board (ECB) guidelines for cricket facilities and the council seems unwilling to change the design to accommodate a wider sphere of use.
- Middlesex County Club will have an office in the building we believe will be occupied Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm.
- The use of the green space and the pavilion will prioritise cricket games during the cricket season, between April-October in the UK.
- Practice sessions and training for youth clubs and local schools will take place there, further impacting access to the precious space.
- Islington’s Sports Facilities Update (2018) references Sport England data revealing just 1,682 adults currently play cricket across Islington.
- The Pavilion offers one 65m2 non-private open plan space which the community may use. The presence of Middlesex employees in the office erodes the privacy for such activities.
- When cricket is played, privacy is also compromised by players who will require access and the lack of private access.
- The plans see no protection put in place for passers-by in the rest of the park, but the pitch size means balls can and do escape the pitch. The existing netting is designed to protect nearby cars and houses, not other park users.
The facts suggest cricket will dominate the park, particularly during spring and summer on weekday evenings and weekends.
These are times when everyone else in the community also requires access to green space. This reduces local amenity, while no local needs assessment has been made. We plead for a fairer decision around this space that better reflects local need.
This seems in defiance of local need and a denial of changes taking place in our society.
The COVID pandemic has transformed how we work.
During the pandemic, working from home has become the norm. This will continue as employers adopt hybrid workplace practises.
This means access to open green spaces and support for multiple activities will become more essential. Yet more facilities and more playing hours for one activity in the park will dominate the space, leaving little for anything else.
Islington’s cricket players already have ample provision.
They can use pitches at St Aloysius College and the Honourable Artillery Company Sports Ground at Artillery Gardens. Openplay.co.uk suggests there are at least 499 cricket pitches in London. 10 within 5 miles of Wray Crescent, 10 more within 5 to 7 miles, 78 more within 7-15 miles.
The decision to prioritise cricket in Wray Crescent open space fails to meet local need, fails to engage with the local community to identify existing needs, and delivers a service (a cricket pitch) that is locally available at the cost of green space the borough’s residents can't afford to lose.
We urge the council to engage with the local community to develop a new plan that meets wider local need and provides a better compromise between the needs of the cricket community and other park users.