Funding secured for new 3G all-weather pitch in Battersea

Published: Friday 3rd August 18

The council has won its bid for more external funding to help provide a new £2.1m all-weather pitch in Battersea’s Falcon Park to boost sports participation and leisure facilities for the area’s young people.

The new 3G artificial grass pitch will replace four existing junior size grass pitches which are regularly deemed unplayable in the winter months because of waterlogging.

Replacing them with an all weather playing surface with floodlights means young footballers and other sports clubs will be able to use them for around 80 hours a week - compared to the ten hour limit recommended for grass pitches by the Football Association.

Funding for the scheme has now been secured from The Football Foundation, which has provided £480,000 and The London Marathon Charitable Trust which has approved a £150,000 grant. The remaining £1.4m is coming from council budgets.

An artist's impression of the new pitch

The new pitch is to be sited in the south west corner of Falcon Park. It will be used mainly for football but will also support other sports like rugby and cricket.

It has been designed to have the least impact on this important green open space which is regularly used by dog walkers and for other leisure and recreational purposes.

The investment will also pay for the construction of a modern new changing pavilion to replace the obsolete and vacant existing one.

The need to provide good quality sports pitches in this part of Battersea has been identified in the council’s Playing Pitch Strategy and there have also been requests for better facilities from local sports clubs, including  the BedHead Junior Football Club, which is one the most popular and best attended in the area.

BedHead, and its charitable arm, The Guy Mascolo Football Charity, run many football coaching programmes in the local community and manage more than 25 youth teams. The club also offers free drop-in sessions and works closely with local schools and with the council’s youth service to deliver a Positive Lifestyles programme to young people in the area aged 14 to 16. The club also runs a girls’ development coaching centre and its women’s team has been competing since 2013.

The pitch will be sited in the southwest corner of the park

Due to high demand from children and young people to play in their competitive teams, they also run a player development league where anyone can come along and be part of a team on a Saturday. BedHead FC is an FA Charter Standard Development and Community Club that has recently won county and regional awards.

Improving access to sports in this part of the borough is also a key public health priority for the council. 

As well as tackling obesity, participation in sport can also offer young people other health benefits. They are less likely to smoke, misuse drugs and/or alcohol and less likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour.

An aerial view of the new pitch

The proposals would leave three quarters of the park almost completely untouched, apart from a series of landscape and environmental improvements at the northern end designed to make it more attractive, improve access and encourage greater use by local people.

The proposals were subject to public consultation in the autumn of 2015. Of those who took part 55 per cent supported the council’s plans compared to 41 per cent who were opposed.

Wandsworth’s environment spokesman Cllr Steffi Sutters said: “Securing funding for this scheme is great news for everyone in this part of Battersea who wants to play football and other sports and stay fit and healthy. 

“It is a particularly welcome piece of news for young people. If we want children and teenagers in the area to be active and engage in healthy sporting activities then we really need to improve the facilities in Falcon Park.
“The existing pitches are no longer fit for purpose which is why the council will now be providing an all-weather playing surface which will be available for a wide variety of sports and leisure uses.

“When we asked local people if they supported the plans a clear majority were in favour. One of the conclusions of the public consultation was the need to make sure that Falcon Park remained open and welcoming to other local groups, especially dog walkers which is why we have sited the new pitch in the south west corner of the park so that dog owners and other visitors can continue to enjoy a large uninterrupted green space.”

The council is also planning to build a brand new state-of-the-art leisure centre in this part of Battersea as part of its regeneration proposals for the York Road and Winstanley estates.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “It is fantastic news for Wandsworth Council to have been awarded a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund to develop Battersea’s Falcon Park.

“Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded 328 grants worth £24.3m across London towards grassroots sports projects worth over £55.1m. This latest project, in Wandsworth, will have a great impact on the local community by opening up access to our national game and improving the quality of sporting experience they enjoy at the enhanced facilities.

“It has been made possible by investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England.”

Sarah Ridley, The London Marathon Charitable Trust’s Chief Grants Officer, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important project at Falcon Park in partnership with Wandsworth Council and The Football Foundation.

“The new facilities will really benefit the local community by supporting much needed opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to be active. The project will help to address the pressing need across London to provide inclusive, accessible and affordable opportunities for children and young people to become and remain physically active. We are particularly excited by the plans to further develop girls’ football at the site and to provide more participation opportunities to children with learning disabilities and complex needs in partnership with The George Shearing Centre

“Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded grants totalling more than £70 million to 1,200+ organisations across London and the UK. The Trust supports capital projects that inspire people to lead a more active lifestyle and increase the number of people regularly taking part in sports and physical activities.”

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Recent comments

I have to say that this is terrible news for the local community. I was never consulted about this, I am a local resident. Falcon park is an oasis in the middle of a noisy and increasingly antisocial London. It’s very sad that the decision is made on behalf of the local community and that the community was not properly consulted. Young people are more and more detached form nature. Removing this gem from a packed urban landscape seriously risks increasing that sense of alienation. More atificial lights and artifical grass, more local traffic, litter. There are four enormous artificial pitches ten minutes away in Battersea Park. This spot is a totally unique gem. A sad day for Battersea and a sad day for London.
Jamie Dick-Cleland

8 September 2018

The remaining £1.4 million is coming from Council budgets !!! did any one put in a request to the National Lottery for a piece of the many millions they constantly receive from Joe Public.
John J

4 August 2018

The 55% approval was the original proposal opposed by Sporting England the result was of heavy influence by beneficiaries including a football club as most of the support came from outside the Borough to say the Local community supported this is another lie as Local petitions submitted even a Facebook page was set up getting objecting to to lack of free park space and as this will alienate the community who cannot pay to use the pitch as well as schools the main complaint being the lack of infrastructure in tiny local roads could never cope all ignored. Another non mentioned fact is amount of trees and grass area lost and the fact 4 pitches exist in local area. This will become another block of unaffordable flats in the future. One truth!
Philip.K

3 August 2018

Do not spoil a much loved park by building this eyesore of a football pitches ! There are enough football facilities in the area, there are not enough pure open green spaces like Falcon Park. Leave Falcon Park alone and available to local people and wildlife as it is. David J Jacobs.
David Jacobs

3 August 2018

Not happy about this with Chelsea residents benefiting from our park and the upheaval will ruin this lovely open space. Should be left alone for Battersea residents and their visitors and no charges should be made
Anita

3 August 2018

Will this facility be available to Bedhead and other local youth groups for free or will it be sold off to a private company to charge whatever they can get away with. The latter course seems to be the Wandsworth way
edward

3 August 2018