Why save Lambs?
The 9 court facility in central London has been a centre of excellence for more than 25 years. Today a developer backed by the Duke of Buccleuch Scotland’s wealthiest landlord wants to turn it into a pedestrian 9 storey block of flats, depriving the local community of a strategic facility which can never be replaced. Squash ranks among the UK's top 10 priority sports. British players hold more Squash world titles and rankings than in any other sport. Government planning policy (PPG17) protects facilities that are not surplus to requirement. Lambs has more than 1100 members, some 50 leagues, two county teams, a vibrant squash ladder, and a thriving player and social community in the heart of the City. Some Islington planning officers think the Duke's flats are more important. We don’t. Nor do local councillors. So we're fighting to stop the Duke.
Backing us are key national and local figures and bodies. Join in if you care about the future of Squash in this country
Why Islington should buy Lambs
Email to Cllr James.Kempton Leader of Islington Council,
Thank you for your response regarding a proposal for the compulsory purchase of Lambs Squash Club. We note your concerns and while we appreciate that the facility is of more than just local importance – indeed its national and strategic importance is what makes its retention and our approach for a CPO so critical – our understanding and advise is that compulsory purchase orders are the prerogative of local authorities alone.
We believe that the 25 years of squash expertise and know-how available at Lambs - the Wimbledon of Squash in Islington - are valuable assets that should not be lost to this borough. They will be of considerable use in furthering local authority initiatives for improving sports facility availability particularly among younger people in Bunhill, classified among the most deprived wards in the borough.
The protection of built sports facilities is an imperative established by central government and accepted without argument by planning authorities across the country. PPG 17 protection was drawn up with this in mind and as a result sets a very high barrier for developers to overcome. PPG 17 is a sufficient justification for a CPO in this case.
The Healthcare Commission published a report –Tackling Child Obesity - First Steps on February 28th 2006 advocating a range of approaches to curb the obesity problem and including encouraging and supporting healthy eating and physical activity, particularly in schools.
In addition the Liberal Democrats own Policy Paper on Sport encourages active cooperation between schools and local sports facilities to provide opportunities for wider sport participation for youngsters at an early age -- Lambs fits this bill perfectly.
The nine squash courts available at Lambs, once open seven days a week, would be a valuable contribution to boosting the practice of sport among schools and youth organisations in the area . According to Councillor Donna Boffa of Bunhill Ward this would help meet the concerns of local Councillors by extending spare-time activities to keep local youth off the streets and out of trouble.
We understand your budgetary concerns but we are convinced that in terms of the recently outlined Development Brief for Lamb's Passage you would be well within your rights and in the public interest, to acquire this facility under CPO. Funding alternatives could be forthcoming.
Indeed we ourselves obtained a report from planning consultants that shows a redevelopment of the existing site, retaining in full the existing squash and gym facilities and to include three stories of accommodation above, is feasible and once the accommodation were sold off, would still provide a residual profit of some £214,569. Hence your council would not be out of pocket should it decide to pursue a CPO and accept the redevelopment proposal example drawn up by our consultants.
Lambs Action Team