Statement on Dukes Meadows Master Plan: Chiswick Boat House

Following extensive consultation with the four key stakeholders at Dukes Meadows, the Master Plan for improving the sporting facilities to the benefit of all users and stakeholders is progressing well

Published: Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

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Chiswick Rugby Club is nearing completion of their new all-weather pitch facilities and progressing with additional groundworks to improve the remaining grass pitches and a new club house extension to provide more changing rooms and sports facilities.

Old Medaonians Football Club has agreed a new lease with the council in relation to the football playing area and the club is in detailed discussions with both the council and potential partners regarding an investment programme which will allow significant external investment into improved facilities.

Hounslow and Barnes Hockey Club has secured funding to refurbish and resurface the existing hockey pitch, with advanced discussions in hand and basic terms agreed, to create a second all-weather hockey pitch on land next to the existing facility.

In terms of the use of Chiswick Boat House, it is recognised that the current site and buildings are in a poor condition and underused, and the long-held aspiration has been to develop a comprehensive range of water sporting facilities on the site accessible to users across the Borough. Funding arrangements are now in hand with indicative finance of £300k from two sources and recent interest from a major institution in providing a further funding tranche.

However, there have been concerns that the current occupiers, Thames Tradesmen, have no legal interest within the property, and that sub-letting arrangements have taken place without the council’s knowledge or approval. In order to regularise the current arrangements and agree how the site can be developed to secure a certain future and greater use, the council has now taken possession of the building.

Prior to this, the council contacted all the current occupiers to agree affordable and realistic terms so existing users could continue to use the Boat House, allowing them to move forward with some certainty while plans to redevelop the site as a water-based sports facility are developed in detail. With the exception of Thames Tradesmen, the other users have agreed mutually beneficial terms to remain in occupation i.e. Old Meadonians Football Club, London Youth Rowing, Chiswick School, (all who have publicly expressed their satisfaction with the terms agreed), Chiswick Rugby Football Club, and the Oratory School.

Council officers met with the elected representatives of Thames Tradesmen at their request on 26 July to agree terms for the club to take a licence, as agreed with the five other occupiers. This was agreed, and a draft licence was issued to the club’s legal advisors within 48 hours. However, to date, the council has not received any further response from the club in relation to the documentation.

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said:

“The council has exerted huge time and effort in seeking to improve the sporting facilities at Dukes Meadows to the benefit of all. My team has developed a strong working relationship with the majority of stakeholders and interested parties, and we undertook a wide-ranging consultation exercise to ensure we had full community engagement. The suggestion that any party has been wilfully excluded is simply not true.

“My officers identified six parties occupying the Chiswick Boat House on ad hoc terms and they have met with all concerned to agree how to move forward in the medium term as we prepare for a much-improved facility on site. With the sole exception of Thames Tradesmen, we have mutually agreed terms with five of the six parties, and all of them are using the facility this week with, by and large, business as usual.

“Terms were agreed with Thames Tradesmen, who alone have decided to refuse to engage and complete the licence. The suggestion that the council wishes to see the development of a private members’ club is false, and my sole concern is to see an improvement in the facilities to the benefit of all users.

“Following the apparent breakdown of discussions with the Thames Tradesmen leadership, we have been approached by individual members who have asked for licences direct, and we are happy to proceed on that basis. I would encourage any parties that wish to be considered as licensees to contact my Director of Estates.”

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