February 2014

The Project to improve the pitches and changing facilities at the Alexandra Park Club to enable use by Heartlands High students ran into a host of delays, largely due to poor planning by the Building Schools for the Future team.

Eventually because of the delays, the school made arrangements to use other playing fields. However the Club was able to access alternative funding from the Council and complete most of the Phase 1 work. Drainage was installed under the cricket pitches and one football pitch, a water storage tank was installed underground for irrigation, and a connection to the main sewer was installed to eliminate of a septic tank.

Phase 2 of the original project, which comprised construction of a Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) is not being pursued at the moment.

The new secondary school, Heartlands High School, which has been built alongside the railway near Alexandra Palace Station, does not have any playing fields.

The Building Schools for the Future team responsible for the construction of the school have therefore been in discussion with the Alexandra Park Club (usually known as ‘the cricket club’) on use of their facilities by the school. This has resulted in proposals for work in two phases to improve the drainage of the pitches, minor alterations to the changing rooms and access, and construction of a multi-use games area. A representative of the Building Schools for the Future team explained these proposals to the Alexandra Park and Palace Consultative and Advisory Committees on April 5th 2011.

Phase 1 Club house alterations and drainage

The drainage will involve installing land drains under the whole sports field (except for one pitch which is already drained). Run-off from these drains will flow into the ditch which runs round the perimeter of the sports field. The ditch will have to be cleared and some weirs installed across it to hold the water up after heavy rain, so that the drains which the ditch empties into are not overloaded. This work does not need planning permission and will be funded by the Building Schools for the Future programme. Work is likely to take place this year - 2011.

The Friends of the Park have supported this additional use of the Park, but have expressed concern to A P & P Board members and the Park manager about the risk of damage to the valuable wildlife habitat around the perimeter ditch during work on the ditch.

Phase 2 Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA)

This would be a synthetic surface, fenced and floodlit pitch, 60 metres by 20 metres, positioned to the west of the club house.

On two sides it would extend 10 or 12 metres into what is known as ‘the cricket scrub’: i.e. the raised area covered in small trees and bushes between the clubhouse and the edge of the old race track. The ‘cricket scrub’ is an important area for nesting birds, and it would be seriously damaged by the excavation necessary to construct the ‘MUGA’.

The Club would like to have the MUGA so that their members could train there in the evenings, and it would provide the school with a pitch to use when the grass pitches are unplayable.

Funding of the MUGA by Building Schools for the Future and the Football Foundation has not yet been secured, and a planning application has to be submitted to Haringey. That is expected at the end of this year (2011).

Although the benefits to the school and Club are evident, the Friends of the Park have expressed serious concern over the impact, within a conservation area, of a substantial fenced and floodlit installation which removes significant wildlife habitat. The public will have a chance to comment when the planning application is published.