It has come as a great shock to residents that a local sports club, Southwark Community Sports Trust, which took over the former playing fields of the University of the Southbank when the latter terminated its use of its ground in Turney Road, has found it necessary to contemplate providing an additional building for use by a children’s nursery to balance its books.
The Trust maintains the extensive grounds very well and the team of volunteers who give up so much of their time for the benefit of many youngsters and other users of the facilities deserve our praise and support.
It is therefore most unfortunate that the Trust’s concerns about viability were not communicated early enough, and the, perhaps, rash decision to build a classroom for a nursery on Metropolitan Open Land, and indeed put down concrete foundations without due permission, must be regarded as reckless.
A number of sports clubs around Dulwich hire their pavilions out to nurseries during the week and this seems to satisfy a demand for a nursery education while at the same time helping the clubs pay their own rent and maintenance expenses. The difference in this case is that Southwark Community Sports Trust wants to build a separate new building for the purpose.
Those opposed to this extra structure, a proposed addition to an already considerable collection of buildings, have rightly pointed out that there is sufficient space in the existing pavilion to accommodate a nursery.
It is however the question of contemplating building on MOL which should exert as much opposition as possible. If one portacabin classroom is provided, what is to stop it being two? Once the principal of protecting MOL is thrown out any forms of development might be contemplated.
Dulwich is unique in London in the amount of open space it has. It also has a lot of schools in and around the area. If the pupils are to receive opportunities for sport, promised as a legacy of the London Olympics, then Dulwich’s playing fields must be defended against any attempt to interfere with the concept of Metropolitan Open Land.
Just as the Journal was about to go to press we learned of the sad news of the death of Wilfred Taylor. An obituary will be published in the next issue. Wilf had only recently decided to retire from his office as membership secretary of the Society and passed over to his successor his meticulous records which he had brought up to date by adopting the latest information technology, a skill which he easily assimilated.
Like others before him who have served the Dulwich Society so well over its fifty years, he will be much missed. Gaps in organisations such as ours need to be constantly filled and if you, dear member, have a particular interest in any of the areas covered by our sub-committees then please make that interest known to the respective chairmen. Naturally, the Journal itself depends on its contributors and it always welcomes news, articles and illustrations.