A community campaign to preserve the fabric of one of the world’s oldest cricket grounds is celebrating today after securing cross-party support to save from development the pavilion at the historic Mitcham Cricket Green, with politicians backing calls for a 999-year lease for the asset of community value.
Mitcham’s cricket ground is the oldest in the world, where the game has been played every year since at least 1685 – at a time when the Restoration King, Charles II, was on the throne, and Christopher Wren was still working on building the new St Paul’s Cathedral.
But now the pavilion used by Mitcham Cricket Club is at risk from a hotel development which involves the Burn Bullock pub – which in its time has also provided accommodation for cricketers – and the lack of legal security provided by the landowners. The owners have given no commitment to funding investment in the cricket pavilion and the loss of its equipment shed would make operating the cricket ground impossible.
Politicians, from local MP Siobhain McDonagh, to a range of local councillors, including Stephen Alambritis, the Labour council leader, and Oonagh Moulton, the leader of the Tory opposition, have issued this supportive statement:
“Merton is immensely proud of the 333-year tradition of playing cricket on the Green in Mitcham – the longest record for any ground in the world. We are aware of the difficulties faced by Mitcham Cricket Club due to the uncertain tenure of Mitcham cricket pavilion. The cricket pavilion is recognised as the first asset of community value in Merton. We are also aware of the troubled recent history of the Burn Bullock site and of the development and restoration plans which have the potential to bring a lasting solution.
“As part of any development proposals for the site we are united in our desire to see the transfer of Mitcham cricket pavilion and all its operational land and buildings into community ownership and management through transfer of the freehold or provision of a 999-year lease at a peppercorn rent ahead of any new development.”
Local campaigners were obviously extremely pleased to have got such broad backing.
“We are delighted by this all-party commitment to securing Mitcham cricket pavilion for the community,” said Tony Burton, the Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage secretary.
“Local pride in the long traditions of cricket in Mitcham runs deep.
“We are determined to secure the future of Mitcham Cricket Club through development that meets both the high standards of the Conservation Area and results in the cricket pavilion being run by the community.”
Mitcham Cricket Club is running a fundraising campaign to save the cricket pavilion. For more information, click here.
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