As someone who values the beautiful woodland all around Eltham I was disturbed to learn recently that the Council is considering removing trees from the site of an old playing field and turning it over to a sports club.
The site is alongside the Rochester Way, opposite Oxleas Meadow where there used to a scout hut and fenced off playing field. I seem to remember that the scout hut burnt down some years ago meaning the playing field was deserted and left to return to woodland – a process which is now well underway with many trees dotted across the space. You can still pick out where the field was, as the remains of a fence are present within the woods, but there is barely any difference between Shepherdleas Woods on one side and the old playing field on the other.
Following an enquiry about the site from a local resident, I asked the Council (which owns the site) what was going on. I have now been informed that the old playing field, which is known as Deansfield, has been the subject of an enquiry from a club asking if this area could be used for sport. I am informed that this is within the field’s planning designation as Metropolitan Open Land (MoL) and no decision has currently been made as the enquiry is at an early stage.
For those of us who witnessed the destruction of biodiversity associated with the handing over of Hervey Road Playing Field to Blackheath Rugby Club, the prospect of something similar happening in the middle of this beautiful woodland is unthinkable.
Aside from the financial mess that the Council’s deal with Blackheath Rugby Club made, the reinstatement of fencing to stop local residents from easily accessing the site was completely unacceptable. Indeed destroying the woodland seems to be against the Council’s own policy which places ‘great importance’ on trees.
In addition, I would have thought the Council could work with a new sports club to improve sports facilities which everyone could access like those in Eltham Park South, where the existing football pitches and grass tennis courts would benefit from some tender loving care. There was once even a specially installed cricket pitch in the park which has seems to have disappeared due to lack of maintenance. Greenwich Council has built over sports pitches like those in the old Sutcliffe Park, left other to decay, while at the same time many sports clubs are struggling to survive after the pandemic.
Surely the role of the Council is to encourage any new sports club to work with others to make better use of existing facilities rather than destroying our beautiful woodland.
Charlie and I will oppose any plans which have a negative impact on our woodland, biodiversity and the environment in Eltham.