Gunnersbury Park Bowls Club Fight May Be Over

Planners now recommending approval for mini-golf replacement

The bowls club pavilion is likely to be converted into a cafe/restaurant
The bowls club pavilion is likely to be converted into a cafe/restaurant

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Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum

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June 16, 2021

The planning officer’s report to be presented at a forthcoming meeting of the Hounslow Borough planning committee offers little hope for those seeking to save the Gunnersbury Park Bowls Club.

Previously the officer had recommended refusal of the Gunnersbury Park CIC’s plan to convert the club’s pavilion into a café/restaurant to serve customers of a new mini-golf course. The reasoning was that no indication had been given as to how the loss of a community asset would be offset. However, now it has been decided that the conversion from a bowls club to a mini-golf course would not represent the loss of a community asset but ‘the ongoing evolution of a broader community use’ of the park as a whole.

The previous application was considered by the planning committee in January of this year but was deferred. When it is considered at the planning meeting at Hounslow House on 24 June the report will now be recommending that councillors approve the proposal.

This would mark the end of a long campaign to save the bowls club which some residents have claimed has been ousted by the park’s management to increase revenue.

The officer’s report states, “Having reviewed the wider context of the scheme, and received further details of the use of the park together with letters of support from Gunnersbury Park CIC and LB Hounslow and LB Ealing Leisure teams, it is considered that the community use in this case is Gunnersbury Park as a whole (rather than the various activities/area that make it up) and there is a detailed and long term plan for the maintenance of this community asset. Given the specific details of the case, the proposed conversion and alterations would be in accordance with the long-term community aspirations of the park and would not constitute a deviation from the Development Plan.”

It was also concluded that the hedge alongside the eastern border of the mini-golf course, which is to be run by Putt in the Park, would screen views of the facility and therefore mean there was not harm to the wider heritage setting.

A petition opposing the closure of the bowls club was signed by over 600 people.

The Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum have described the potential permanent closure of the bowls club as “one of the worst decisions it (the CIC) has yet made, and apparently made in the worst possible way.”

In a message to the Friends, chairman James Wisdom said, “The row over the Bowls Club is not a private conflict between the bowlers on the one hand, and the CEO and the Board of the CIC on the other. It is a direct challenge to the values and methods of those who manage Gunnersbury, and one they are comprehensively failing.”

Mr Wisdom suggests that the CIC is acting as a vehicle to implement strategies decided by Hounslow and Ealing Councils which may not be in the best interest of the park and the people who use it.

He adds, “In its desperation to earn an income, this CIC has focussed hard on commercial opportunities, some of which have been welcomed while others have damaged its relationship with the surrounding community. It seems to have had no strategy for supporting smaller scale activity which could benefit groups in the community like the Bowls Club, which had operated in this public park for over 90 years. Despite being vested with public assets, its whole approach has been one of ‘ownership’ and with it an entitlement to privacy.”

We have asked Gunnersbury Park CIC for comment.


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