The Transformation of Hervey Road Sports Field

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An amazing transformation has taken place over the past year and a half at the Hervey Road Sports Field!

Opened in 1888, it was regularly used as a sports ground for over 110 years until 2002. It previously accommodated 2 football pitches, a bowls green, three tennis courts and a pavilion which included social space as well as changing facilities. There was also a rifle range on the site.  In 2002 the pavilion burned down and was not replaced. Without any facilities it had limited use as a sports venue and gradually fell into disrepair.

As the site fell into disrepair, however, and was underused as a sports venue it became a magnet for illegal behaviour such as drug taking, fly- tipping and motorbike riding. It suffered several illegal encampments from “travellers” who fly-tipped on an industrial scale causing great concern and disruption for local residents and to the Council in term of enforcement to leave and clearing up of the piles of rubbish left behind.

In 2013 The Royal Borough of Greenwich decided to use available grants monies to restore Hervey Road to its traditional use as a sports facility. Their aim was to encourage sport, (particularly as they had been of the hosts of the 2012 Olympics) and to save this wonderful green site for future generations. The initial project was planned to include: improvements to the sports field (including cricket square, training nets and 2 football pitches), an inclusive play area, the provision of inclusive team changing rooms with an area for social and/or physical activity and café provision, resurfacing the car park, and provision of a floodlit MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area).

All of these aims have been successfully completed, along with a lot more. Building work on the pavilion was completed late in the summer of 2018 and the final work on the fields later in 2018. There is now a pavilion which has 2 changing rooms and a café/bar facility as planned. The MUGA is fully operational. There is a new car park. There is a grass cricket square, and also an artificial cricket wicket. From September 2019 onwards through the winter season, there will be one adult sized rugby pitch, one adult sized football pitch, 3 junior football pitches and also a number of areas for mini-rugby training to take place around the main pitches. From the original plans, only the cricket nets are yet to be installed, and we are working out at present how this can be done.

Blackheath Rugby Club took over management of the Hervey Road Sports Field in September 2018, although at that stage there was still outstanding work to be done on the playing fields. Last winter, the playing fields were used most Sunday mornings by around 200 mini rugby players aged from under 6 up to under 10. A new girls rugby section was formed which started coaching sessions at the beginning of 2019. Throughout the three school terms, most weeks, over 500 schoolchildren used Hervey Road Sports Fields for sport and PE. During the winter months, football was the main sport for the older children, but the MUGA was also used extensively by younger children, or when the weather was less clement.

Over the Easter school holidays, a 300m running track was created on the playing fields so that, during the summer months, the schools could run athletics sessions. Both schools held their sports days at Hervey Road Sports Field during the summer. For the first of these, approximately 1000 schoolchildren and teachers, along with siblings, parents and grandparents, enjoyed a wonderful day of sports.

On Saturday 6th July, we held a Fields in Trust “Have a Field Day” picnic and fun day at the sports fields. Across the UK, Fields in Trust legally protects 2,809 parks and green spaces in perpetuity by working in partnership with their landowners. We were very pleased to welcome Eltham MP Clive Efford, Councillors Christine Grice, David Stanley and Norman Adams, as well as a number of members of the Friends of Hervey Road Sports Fields and the Kidbrooke North Residents Association to the “Have a Field Day”.

During the summer school holidays, the fields have been available to all members of the local community to use 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Greenwich District Cricket Junior Cricket Academy are running cricket sessions every weekday at Hervey Road throughout the summer school holidays, which have been very popular.

Charlton Triangle Homes are using the sports fields for Tag Rugby as part of their youth summer programme. Blackheath rugby are providing the coaches for these sessions. Charlton Athletic Community Trust will be running football coaching sessions in the last week of the summer holidays.

A netball club use the MUGA on Monday evenings and a local junior football team, Blackheath Rhinos, will be using Hervey Road Playing Fields as their base from September 2019 onwards.

We are confident that usage of the playing fields will increase steadily over the next couple of years. We are particularly keen to attract more groups who wish to use the pavilion for meetings, children’s parties or for classes, and also more sports organisations who would like to use the MUGA.

It is already well used by local schools and clubs and is freely available for use by local residents outside school hours. I am particularly pleased to be able to report that a recent inspection by the Planning Enforcement Officer confirmed that we are fully compliant with the ecological enhancement plan. Biodiversity is important to us, as well as provision of a wide range of sports. I can reassure all local residents that the management of Hervey Road Sports Fields is in very safe hands.

Alan Thompson

11th August 2019

Tim Brindle

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