Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Play Football in Hammersmith Park - How It Turned Out

Play Football - Fenced in
Play Football has finally opened its new football pitches in Hammersmith Park, after a long battle with local residents, and its new five-a-side facilities include a bar, cafe and clubhouse. The park has been the subject of a long dispute over its future, after the last Council administration granted Play Football a long lease to operate a number of paid-for football pitches, at the same time removing the existing sports facilities. Following a campaign by local author and resident Virginia Ironside, Play Football's plans were scaled back, with a promise to renew the tennis courts and also add a Multi-Use-Games-Area (MUGA).  So, now that the job is done, how does it all look?

Play football entry
Play Football is an organisation that - as its name suggest - encourages people to play football. And they have, after a long battle, and much delay, recently opened a brand new five-a-side facility in the northern part of Hammersmith Park, where the old bowling green used to be. This is good news for people who like playing football. Aesthetically however, it's pretty ugly.

The building itself is a low, unattractive bungalow, which feels as if every expense was spared in its construction.  From the park, all you can see is a big wooden fence (see image at the top), and even when you go up to the front door the building feels oddly forbidding, with not even a sign to tell you what is inside.

Once you get inside, the building works a lot better. There is a bar, changing facilities, all the stuff you'd expect.  It's not exactly beautiful, but it works well enough. The actual football facilities themselves, which are only visible from inside the building (ie not from the park) look very good.

Play Football bar

So what about the MUGA and tennis courts? Well, these have been restored, up to a point. The courts have been repainted, and the nets repaired. But the old rusty pillars that hold up the nets are still old and rusty - no-one has bothered to repaint them. And the chain link fence which surrounds the courts is still just as broken and dirty as it always was.

Tennis Courts
However, it appears that the the tennis courts and MUGA are now the Council's responsibility - and nothing to do with PlayFootball.  With luck, the tennis courts will be properly redeveloped and improved when Hammersmith Park gets a full make-over - courtesy of "section 106" money from Stanhope, the developers who are rebuilding TV Centre.

Tennis Courts - unloved?
So it appears we have LBHF to thank for repainting the courts - plus a little local pressure. As Virginia Ironside put it: "better to have the tennis courts open (and free to play on) in their present state than closed for another year".

The Bush Telegraph offers a personal view on life in Shepherd's Bush. If you would like to contribute a story about our neighbourhood, email us at shepherdsbushblog(at)gmail.com. And do leave a comment in the section below.

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