Image above: Computer Generated Impression of proposed site development
Historic site where the marathon was held during the 1908 London Olympics
Proposals to restore the historic stadium and make major changes to the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground in Hartington Rd, Grove Park, by Latymer School have received the backing of Hounslow Council planners.
The Latymer Foundation’s ambitious application (P/2023/1844) has been praised for the scope of the new facilities it will create, but criticised for its impact on the local environment.
The Foundation maintains the grounds have been neglected for more than 30 years. They say it is underutilised because of the lack of investment, and has the potential to be transformed.
Historically, the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground held significance as the finish line for the marathon during the first London Olympics in 1908, but over the years, the track was removed to make way for a car park, and the stadium’s pitch fell into disrepair.
The heart of the revitalisation plan centres on restoring the Polytechnic Stadium. The 1936 Grade II Listed modernist grandstand, unused for over two decades, will undergo extensive refurbishment for improved accessibility. Once restored, the grandstand and its changing rooms will be reopened, hosting sports days and major matches.
Latymer proposes big changes to the grounds as well, to introduce versatile multi-sport pitches, all-weather sports areas, cricket nets, artificial wickets, and padel courts, but the development will have a significant environmental cost, say its critics.
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Objections to the proposals raised concerns about potential traffic congestion, noise, parking issues, the removal of established trees, and scepticism regarding community access to the revamped facilities. They also questioned the wisdom of covering land by the river, liable to flooding, with plastic, rather than leaving it as natural open ground that can soak up water.
Of the 28 comments received on the development by the Council, 22 were objections.
‘A world of plastic, rubber and asphalt’
Abundance London, run by director Dr Karen Liebreich MBE, say while they are aware of all the reasons why sport is good and children should do more of it, they believe residents, the Council, the school and its parents should take into consideration that:
‘Almost the entire area of the Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground will be transformed into a world of plastic, rubber and asphalt, with high fences and floodlights.’
The proposal is ‘greedy,’ they say, ‘in its use of every corner of the site, covering much of it in artificial surfacing, and leaving almost nothing for the natural world.
‘It is therefore contrary to good environmental practice, contributes to climate change, and contradicts any claim about stewardship of biodiversity or nature.’
The Council’s planners, while acknowledging the concerns, have lent their support to the proposed scheme, saying in their view the development would not compromise the site’s heritage value or the character of the Grove Park Conservation Area. They highlighted the provision of additional greenery, with 105 new trees planned to counterbalance the loss of established trees.
Addressing worries about flooding, the planners point to the proposal’s compliance with drainage regulations. They think measures to manage parking will be effective, as automated number plate recognition (ANPR) will be introduced for used for registered users.
There are 262 car parking spaces planned, a reduction of three from the existing arrangement. There will be provision for Blue Badge parking, Active Electric Vehicle bays, and coach parking.