Plans have been submitted for a new £3.6 million sports pavilion on Hackney Marshes.
If approved, it would mark the completion of a long-term project called Remaking the Marshes with the goal of making facilities on the marshes fit for the 21st Century.
The building in North Marsh is designed to blend in with its surroundings and provide modern cricket and football changing rooms, as well as a social space and viewing gallery for the ‘show’ cricket pitch created in 2010.
It will replace the current changing facilities next to Cow Bridge, off Mandeville Road, which have reached the end of their life, are often vandalised, and do not meet current guidelines and regulations.
Hackney Marshes is widely considered the home of grassroots football with more than 60 football pitches, the greatest concentration anywhere in Europe. It also has 10 cricket pitches and three rugby pitches.
People wanting to play sport on the southern area of the marshes are well catered for by the Hackney Marshes Centre, off Homerton Road.
However, the pitches in the northern area are poorly served by the existing changing block meaning players and teams are often put off from using them.
Proposals for a new pavilion and its suggested location were supported by the majority of Hackney residents during a public consultation last year, which also found 63 per cent of respondents would be encouraged to play more sport if one was built.
The Football Foundation and the England and Wales Cricket Board, which have contributed £2.7 million towards Remaking the Marshes, have also backed the pavilion proposals.
Part of the planning application also seeks retrospective permission for the East Marsh car park to replace the one which was built over to create the temporary transport hub and other facilities for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council commented: "Hackney Marshes is a fantastic asset for the borough and is renowned across the world as the home of grassroots football. It’s also increasingly become a centre for cricket in London."
"The current North Marsh changing rooms are not fit for purpose. The marshes needs modern facilities that are accessible to the widest possible range of people."
“A new pavilion would allow us to realise the full potential of the marshes and encourage even more people to get active - vital in a borough which has some of the highest child obesity rates in the country."
“When not being used for sport this is a beautiful and tranquil area and, as such, we’ve tried hard to ensure the new pavilion will be as unobtrusive and eco-friendly as possible, not detrimental to local wildlife and shielded by greenery. The development will actually increase the number of trees on the marshes."
Mike Gatting, ECB Managing Director Cricket Partnerships, said: “ECB is working with several local authorities across England and Wales to promote cricket in urban areas and today’s announcement is yet another example of how these partnerships are delivering a lasting legacy for recreational cricketers nationwide.
“This is great news for cricket in the local area and will be a terrific boost for Stoke Newington Cricket Club which is a tremendous club with strong community links and a thriving junior section."
David McDermott, Director of Stakeholder Development at the Football Foundation, said: “The Football Foundation fully supports the upgrading of the facilities at Hackney Marshes. Once completed these developments will significantly improve the quality of experience of players and help sustain and increase participation in our national game.”
The new pavilion would be a one-storey building containing 16 team changing rooms (each with four showers, two wash basins and two toilets), four changing rooms for officials, a social space, kitchen, toilets, storage and a glass-fronted viewing area which will allow spectators to watch cricket matches on the ‘show' pitch.
The development would include a new 68-space car park – 60 standard and eight blue badge - to its west and four cricket nets to its south. The car park will also have space for five mini buses, five coaches and 26 bicycles, and replaces the current car park which only has spaces for cars.
The proposed pavilion has been designed to be sustainable and, as far as possible, it will be created using recyclable materials. Soil from the excavation work will be used for landscaping and to create a ‘brown roof’ which will provide a habitat for local wildlife. Bio fuel will provide renewable energy for heating and for hot water generation.
A new shrub and tree belt is proposed which will visually screen the building when viewed across the playing fields therefore result in a greater number of trees than are there at the moment and an extended wildlife habitat.
The existing pavilion’s 22 changing rooms are not fit for purpose and don’t meet the official standards of the England and Wales Cricket Board or the Football Foundation. It has limited access for people with disabilities and only communal showers.
The £17.1 million Remaking the Marshes project has been part-funded by the Council, along with the Football Foundation, FIFA, Olympic Delivery Authority, London Marathon Trust, Sport England, Rugby Football Union, England and Wales Cricket Board, London Development Agency, the Primary Care Trust and the Multi-Area Agreement.