Cray Wanderers Football Club has an illustrious history being the oldest football club in London and second oldest in the world. The club has for many seasons not had its own ground and has had to share the facilities of Bromley FC in Hayes Lane Bromley. However this arrangement is coming to an end and while it has enabled the club to survive, this playing location is far from ideal, being many miles from the club’s heartland in Cray Valley.
The club has been campaigning for some time to find a site in the Cray Valley where it could locate in or close to its natural catchment area. The club submitted a planning application for a site in Sandy Lane but this was unsuccessful. It is fair to say that the Sandy Lane site had planning complications which made the grant of permission less than straightforward.
The Council will be well aware that Flamingo Park is a significant recreational space within the Green Belt but outside the Chislehurst Conservation Area, which has had more than its fair share of planning difficulties over the years. There have been a series of unauthorised uses on the land and its recreational capability is not being realised. The lawful use of the main former pavilion building on the site as a night club rather than a pavilion for the playing fields is hardly a contributor to open air recreation. There have been other unauthorised uses which have resulted in the Council taking enforcement action including the use of the land for boot fairs.
Current Use - Flamingo Park
The current use of Flamingo Park is graphically illustrated in these photographs. There are a number of lawful and temporary uses which have been introduced.
The pavilion is now a night club. The temporary uses, which may not need planning permission, have included boot fairs, funfairs and the sale of fireworks. A number of other uses have been on site from time to time for example boot camps, scaffolding, van hire and car storage.
About ten years ago a Planning Inspector upheld Bromley Council’s decision to refuse to allow the playing fields to be included as part of the adjoining Kemnal Manor cemetery. In the decision letter the Inspector concluded at paragraph 26 “The proposal does not comply with national and local planning policies because ... there would be an unjustified loss of the private recreational facilities and public use of playing fields provided by the sports ground.
This proposal will open an exciting new chapter in the planning history of Flamingo Park. The Green Belt location is respected and care has been taken to ensure that each and every element is compliant with national guidance, the London Plan and Bromley's Unitary Development Plan. Even the name will be changed - to Foxbury Park - so that everything about the scheme represents a fresh new start.
The main elements comprise:
1. The removal of the night club and all the other uses whether permitted or not which are not supportive of recreational and community use.
2. The development of a home base for Cray Wanderers FC with the facilities needed by their current league status but capable of meeting their future aspirations should promotion be achieved.
3. The full realisation of the community hub which the club is already operating in a number of locations across the area, including the academy at Coopers School.
4. The redevelopment of the night club with a small scale residential community in accordance with planning policy.
Bringing together a homeless football club with a strong track record of positive work in the community and an under used recreational resource produces a unique opportunity for a sustainable development from which the whole community can benefit.
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