LAMBS  
Wimbledon of Squash-
Centre of Excellence
in Olympic 2012 capital 1, Lamb's Passage, Islington,
London, EC1Y 8LE
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 FLASH: ISLINGTON COUNCIL ELECTIONS - ALL CHANGE
613 objections filed so far - deadline extended

 Campaigns by Lambs Squash Club members and supporters to save the Wimbledon of Squash from redevelopment
retaining  it as a centre of Squash excellence. First year, campaign started Easter 2005 - save-lambs-squash-club.co.uk 

 

     Saving Lambs - a cause backed by:
    Rt Hon Richard Caborn Minister for Sport;

LATEST!
App. No P052310
1st campaign
2nd campaign
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 Members and supporters have been vociferous in and highly supportive of the campaign to save the Wimbledon of Squash. A sample of the hundreds of emails and objections over the course of the past 12 months is shown below. Thanks and keep them coming.

 Some of your comments on the latest planning applications:
..."I recently bought a flat in Islington and work on Bunhill Row. I joined Holmes Place on Bunhill Row last year as I was keen to play squash regularly. Playing the game is very enjoyable and helps me stay fit. However, Holmes Place only has two courts, which are consistently fully booked. In addition, members have to pay £5 for a 40 minute session in addition to a hefty monthly membership fee. These factors meant I played little squash over the last year, was regularly frustrated in my attempts to do so, and felt cheated financially when I was finally able to book a court! I cancelled my membership last month and joined Lambs instead ... If Lambs is forced to close, I will be forced into a very frustrating situtation: my options are to quit playing the game, or rejoin a gym that offers expensive access to limited squash facilities." DD

 
...I am writing to register my STRONG OBJECTION to both the applications ... which would effectively end the long and successful run of Lambs Squash Club in (central) London. The Club is unique in that it provides world class squash facilities in the heart of the City - CM
...Squash is played widely by workers in the city, contributing greatly to general health and quality of life - JO
...I've objected - GW
...I strongly object to plans to demolish this important sporting facility ... the area is a thriving city environment where workers and local residents alike benefit from the amenity of this rare above ground sport and squash facility....( and I have urged players around the county to do the same) - GK

...the only other available squash courts in the city are at Finsbury Leisure Centre which has only 4 courts ... not enough for the 1000+ membership of Lambs - JB
...an average of 3 new members are joining Lamb's on a daily basis at the moment... most appear to be  squash players So the contention that squash is dead in the city is very far from being anywhere close to the truth. - NB
...City of London has far too many offices and nowhere near enough sports facilities. If the 9 squash courts at Lamb's Squash Club are demolished then there will be only a very few squash courts in the city, almost all of them based in very expensive gyms where there is no real encouragement of squash. The club is also one of the few sociable sporting clubs in London,..- SS
.. pulling the courts down would force many ... out of the game. How poor an enorsement would it be to discourage sport at a time when we have just won the olympic bid and are all being encouraged to lead a healthier lifestyle - CM
...(Lambs) keeps fit some most capable workers who would not have other times when they can play (due to) family committments. It is one of the best clubs in the country and is part of City Life.I immensely value it. Please reject these applications. - PB
...There is a petition instruction attached which I'd appreciate your time in completing. ... please put at least this much back into the game that I know you all love. Then take it a further step and send it to others like you and me, who love squash and would want their children to have the chance to enjoy it, as much as you and I have done. - AH
..Its the only "international" competition quality venue in the City with proper viewing galleries. It is an ambassador club known throughout the world, and is the home of squash in London.... Adds character to the area while servicing the needs of squash players throughout the city. .. It is part of the City's work hard play hard culture.  Services the needs of league squash players from all over London who play against its top seeded Middlesex Premiership teams. - SM
...I've objected... having joined Lambs following the closure of squash courts at another club (to make way for a more "profitable" spinning room) I was disappointed to hear that Lambs too may disappear from the City landscape.- SW
...I would object to the implications... that the squash courts are in some way underutilised and that capacity for squash players exists close by in other facilities... The courts are in fact rarely anything other than fully booked between 11.40 and 2pm and from around 5 to 5.20pm in the afternoon... As a member, it is often impossible to get courts for peak times ...Essentially, the courts are heavily oversubscribed at peak times. Therefore the suggestion that the 14 other squash courts within 650m of the site could easily accommodate the existing demand for squash courts at Lambs is palpably untrue....- GB
..It is shameful that one of the last remaining world class squash facilities in the country let alone in London is being threatened.... (this will) deprive the working and resident population of a .. cherished amenity....- JR

,,, squash (is like)  chess, played on the run to test you and your partner to the limit. This (demolition threat) is just another test .. of  our resolve ....I propose this centre be saved ....- JM
 ...I cannot see how the shutting down of the City's premier squash club with over 300 active league players alone and no sensible alternative facilities can possibly be justified on anything but pure short term commercial considerations . It is an important amenity which provides. significant health benefits to a wide range of people which has positive effects on the broader economy. Any closure would certainly fly in the face of the propaganda built up to support London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympics......- RA
Keep up the good work.... everyone I know at the club supports (this campaign) ... I read the planning report - the assumption that so many people can simply be re-housed is ridiculous. Removing Lambs will deplete squash facilities by 39% in the area. This is significant especially given how busy all 9 courts at Lambs always are! -MD
...(At) a time when the government is trying to encourage us all to maintain our fitness and stay healthy, when this city is hosting the OlympicGames in a few years, trying to close down sporting facilities is madness. It is very difficult to play any sport in the centre of this overcrowded city and commuting each day doesn't make it any easier to make time for sport. I have been playing squash regularly at Lambs for seven years and rely on these facilities to keep me sane during the week. I do not play in the Lambs leagues as we have a healthy league within our company (all games are played at Lambs) which is now in jeopardy. Consequently, we may not have been included in the dubious figures quoted in the Clan applications. I can vouch for the difficulty of booking a court during peak hours and nearly always have to play after 2pm when it is slightly quieter. .... The Clan applications state that the squash courts within the facility are generally used between 12.30 pm and 2.00 pm and 6pm and 8pm each day. On average, only 375 squash bookings are placed for the 9 squash courts each week. These figures do not make sense, 375 bookings equates to each squash court bring booked for more than 5.5 hours every day, not the 3.5 hours they claim. Even if other squash clubs in London may have spare capacity, I am highly sceptical that they do at peak times when everyone is able to play! I have tried and failed to play at the Finsbury public facilities as it is so busy.  For London to be taken seriously as a leading global city, it needs more facilities like these for its workers, not less..-RM.

...Lambs squash is a "city" squash club and hence attracts players that work in the city. It is unique in offering NINE squash courts, many workers in the city use the squash courts during lunchtime and evenings. To mention a small percentage of locals play squash could be said of virtually any gym in the country...There are a number of other gyms in the area, but they are double the price and don't offer the squash environment. These gyms ... put squash content very low down in their order of priorities........The (alleged) decline in membership (must in part ) be due to the fact that Lambs has relocated its  existing sales person not once but twice in recent months... It saddens me to hear about the decline of squash, but removing NINE courts will not help ...! Surely it would be better to ... (make the facility) more accessible to the local community i.e. schools and help promote the sport to a younger generation.  Closure of Lambs WOULD result in a shortage of squash courts. Splitting the members over 4/5 different clubs would dilute the squash club membership and the strength of team squash at Lambs... This mass of (9) courts attracts a lot of squash players and hence a lot of top quality squash players i.e. squash professionals. To dilute the availability of courts will dilute the quality of squash ... and ... cause great harm to the sport. Squash is .. about competing against players and (this) requires a concentration of players...GLL
...I've objected - ADW

...I've objected- we need decent available squash facilitiesin the city! - MK

...I made a decision to take up my current job due to its close location to Lambs and (arranged) lunch flexibility (so I could) play squash ….  excercise at lunch is a necessity for me not … a luxury.  (My former club was demolished) so I decided to move to a job closer to Lambs to benefit from the excercise and  enjoyment (that) make me a more productive and effective employee.  I have turned down a variety of jobs outside of London purely because of Squash and Lambs. (This) squash club offers me an environment to network with my peers…(no other club I know) offers what Lambs does - namely a squash league and environment par excellence. The planning application...make (s) reference to "other clubs" in the vicinity offering the same service, which is a nonsense.  (No other) club offers the variety of players that Lambs does nor the training standards. We have ex world standard players who coach.  (As for) opportunities for the younger members - when I was growing up, I would often spend time at the (local) squash club watching more  established players. In a sense it kept me off the streets and (later) gave me a … beneficial pastime. I suggest that a lot of younger up and coming players would lose out on such an opportunity (if Lambs were to go) which is a loss in the long run for the community as a whole. How will the younger members of our community benefit from yet another office/ residential block?- AA
...As a member of the club.I would like to register my objection to this (application) - FS
...the club has contributed to the enjoyment of tens of thousands of players and spectators from around the country and worldwide, as a renowned base for excellent squash and a site for some of its leading competitions....Squash is one of this country’s strongest sports, if not the strongest, and would be our best chance of a medal if it were to take its deserved place in the Olympics...There is no remotely comparable facility in central London, and anyone with the slightest familiarity with the sport will confirm that any attempts to argue otherwise are nonsense.  A gym complex with a couple of appended courts with no internal leagues, no representative teams and no club spirit is not a true squash club, any more than a nondescript playing field is a football club. - JG
...I strongly object to the proposed destruction of a valuable sports club that is unique in the City of London in terms of its promotion and development of squash - a sport that Britain has a very strong global reputation in. Over the past 10 or so years a number of other City squash clubs have closed or reduced courts (for example, Cannons, Cutlers). At a time of considerable public concern over obesity, growing impact of stress and Britain's long hours culture - how can we seriously be thinking about closing down an amenity that provides the opportunity for healthy and de-stressing activity, unless there is some suitable replacement in the same location - PL
I believe that replacing Lambs with a residential/commercial development will deprive the city district of an irreplaceable sporting and social facility.... Lambs really is the most important squash club in the UK and possibly the highest profile club worldwide.  It is no understatement to say that it is the Wimbledon-equivalent of a popular and important sporting activity. Losing this facilitity would be a great loss to capital's sporting facilities. - JH
...I play squash and spent a long time looking for a club in the city with proper squash facilities. No other club in the city can rival Lambs in this regard and I have no doubt that if Lambs were to close the people who play and train at Lambs would be unable to find a club that can offer facilities of an equivalent standard.... - CB
...
But the list of facilities alone doesn't begin to convey what a valuable club this is.  It is in many ways to squash what Wimbledon is to tennis. The club has nearly 1,300 members of which about 800 are squash players - by far the largest club in London, and possibly the largest in the UK.   It has 40 leagues with 270 league players.  It has country standard teams.  It is also used frequently by top professional players either for tournaments, or for coaching/exhibition matches. Squash is one of the sports that the UK excels at. Myself and others who support Lambs were greatly cheered by the authorities ruling on the previous application to the demolish the club.  You will hopefully receive many other representations supporting the club.  I really urge you to do whatever you can to help those campaigning to save Lambs. It IS something very valuable that, once gone, will be lost forever.... - BF
..I work near the Monument and use the club over 200 times a year. I strongly object to the proposed removal of this unique sporting facility. So many people use this facility that unless I book a court as early as the rules allow i.e. phone 7 days in advance at 0700 in the morning to book a court I do not get one. This means a lot of players use the club - contrary to the submission from the developers. The Government is trying to encourage sport at the moment. ... My experience of Lambs is in stark contrast with the assertions of the developers. The submission from the developers belittles its unique nature and its popularity and, laughably, describes its effect on the neighbourhood as "generating an atmosphere of an inhospitable and threatening back-alley’. I would urge any body voting on this matter to visit the site and speak to the members rather than taking the biased submission from the developers.... - AP
...Paragraph 11 of PPG17 states..:-sports and recreational facilities that are of high quality, or of particular value to a local community, should be recognised and given protection by local authorities through appropriate policies in plans...Lambs squash club is without question the premier squash facility in Islington and in London as a whole, and its loss will be keenly felt throughout central London. Lambs is a purpose built squash facility with 9 courts, including a glass backed exhibition court with a 250 seater auditorium for which there are no alternative venues of comparable size or amenity within the greater London area. In practice Lambs is irreplaceable....The members of Lambs represent bona fide stakeholders and should have been consulted and given the opportunity to make an offer for the club with the intention of placing it in trust for the use of future generations...I submit that incontrovertibly Lambs Squash Club is a fixture of International and National repute. As such I request that this planning application be rejected and the facility given a special protected status for the benefit of a sport in which the UK excels worldwide, and to the advantage of future generations of squash players.. TK
Eat healthy, do more exercise, isn't that was our government are telling us ? ....I work in London every day, commuting from Grantham (where I am a member in my local club) and losing Lambs would leave a large gap in my day. What cost a few more apartments. KH
..I have been a member of Lamb's Club since 1986...In my view :..The demolition of the Club itself would be the loss of a major amenity.  It is a landmark squash club, well known not just in London but amongst those involved in squash around the world.  It is the biggest squash club in the City...I can think of no comparable club within two or three miles of Lamb's, let alone in the immediate vicinity.  It offers nine squash courts; one show court which can and does accommodate many spectators and two smaller show courts...It is a major facility for employees of businesses in the area and helps attract and retain these employees... On a wider issue, the loss of Lamb's will be a major blow for the sport of squash in England...I believe it has previously been suggested that an application be encouraged for mixed development which would include within it the survival of a squash/fitness club.  Subject obviously to other planning and local considerations, such an application would be more likely to have my support.RH
I object to planning application P052310 on the grounds that:..This is a loss of a local amenity. Lambs squash club is a very large squash club which achieves a critical mass of members where players of all standards are able to find many players of similar standards to play. The courts are over subscribed at peak times and the displacement of these players would cause severe strain on other local amenities...The site is located on the edge of Islington and the City. It is an amenity not only for Islington but also for central London and should be viewed as such.AR
I most strongly object to the planning application submitted as they would entail the removal of a very valuable asset, namely 9 squash courts, including 2 championship courts and gym facilities, which are currently used by some 1250 people (Lambs membership in April 05), who would NOT be able to be accommodated by other squash facilities in the area - NOTHING LIKE IT. The planning application flies in the face of any reasonable person's view that: sport is important for health and wellbeing (given growing obesity levels etc) particularly that inner city sports facilities should be preserved, as they are used by local people, including kids and older folk who cannot afford to use Holmes Place etc); given that London hosts the Olympic Games in 2012 and that we need to encourage sport at all levels; given that we do NOT need a 9-storey block of flats on this site, ...- given that there IS a viable alternative, namely that the site is re-developed in a way that retains the provision of squash and other sporting facilities, while adding some residential accommodation, which would pay for the redevelopment. Islington would (IMHO) be very ill-advised indeed to progress with the current application.
KMcL
Member email to Islington South MP Emily Thornton:
I have been informed that you are the relevant MP with whom I should lodge my sincerest dismay and regret regarding the proposed planning applications with respect to Lambs Squash Club. The club is the eminent squash venue in London. It provides 9 courts to over some 500 members. In terms of squash facilities it is unrivalled across ... London. To allow this centre of excellence to close would be a tremendous blow to this community of players, the community itself and to the prestige of sport in London... (It) would (rightly) cast doubt over the commitment to sport and health that both your party and London as a whole has espoused (with particular emphasis on the recent successful Olympic). It would smack of hypocrisy....put quite simply - the club is thriving, there is no suitable alternative, it will destroy the strong community that has developed there, it has unrivalled facilities and it is very much loved by all members past and present and has been home to many squash greats. Please help save Lambs.MD
I am a regular user of Lambs and I fully support the campaign to save it and have registered my on-line objection with Islington council.MR
Lambs has been a leading venue for 25 years for a sport which has a more highly committed and social following than any conventional gym or leisure centre operation.  As a country the UK has four Englishmen in the top 10 world rankings.  How many other sports can claim that achievement? Demolishing the Club would undermine both a sport in which this country excels, and the enjoyment of the game for the many of us amateurs who play there and develop their game thanks to the breadth and depth of playing that the facility attracts. Lambs squash club is without question the premier squash facility in Islington and in London as a whole, and its loss will be keenly felt throughout central London.DF

I joined Lambs in 2001 and like many would be denied the particular health providing benefits it provides if replaced by flats. I urge you to take into account fully the downside. Lambs is unique and could not be replaced, are there not many other places suitable for flats ?  Would you be putting money before people and their wellbeing ?  If planning went ahead I suggest the downside would outweigh the benefit.RMcN
....My objections are as follows: - Council UDP policy should be to maintain the Lambs Squash facility: "The Council supports the provision of additional facilities for indoor sports, fitness and active leisure pursuits."  Sections 7.4.2, 7.4.3 & 7.4.5.  Lambs provides commercial indoor sports of a high std, used by a wide range of ages and standard of Squash players up to top internationals.
- Loss of leading venue
Lambs squash club is the premier squash facility in Islington and in London.  Lambs provides squash facilities that are not available elsewhere in London. Lamb Squash Club represents an important amenity for the local Islington residents as well as for people who live and / or work in the City of London.- Loss of Lambs facility is not in keeping with government planning advice PPG17 para 10 /11.  This venue should be protected because it offers facilities of a quality that are not available elsewhere.  This club should be given special status to allow it to continue to support international, national and local squash.I have been an active member of Lambs Squash Club for nearly 7 years.  Lambs is an important part of my working and social life.  Given the right opportunity I would wish to become a stakeholder in this excellent facility.IC

...Among alternatives offered for displaced Lambs members and cited in the planning application, are the Islington boroughs own facilities: Finsbury Leisure Centre, Norman Street.  EC1V 3PU. A Lambs club member (one of two members excluded by Lambs owner Mike Corby as a direct consequence of the successful refusal of the first planning application) investigated at length this the Finsbury club alternative and that of its sister club. Her findings are: It would seem that there are collectively, between the two (Islington municipal) clubs mentioned, 12 courts available, each with 5 (x5) weekday slots and 10(x2) weekend slots, accommodating 660 people to play twice a week. The current total membership headcount of these clubs is of the order of 24,800, 5000 of whom use the squash facilities. If we assume at a conservative estimate that only half these players are regular players (play twice per week), we would see that the clubs are already very heavily (and probably over) subscribed for squash. This became evident when in discussions directly with the clubs they mentioned that peak hour booking saturation was great.  Given that Lambs had 1,243 members in April 2005 (numbers that have improved over the past quarter), of whom some 800 are regular (squash) players, playing at a conservative estimate, twice a week, we can see that the facilities mentioned would be subject to significant pressure to cope with the load of additional squash demand involved indeed, the alternatives suggested do not appear feasible. Having been a member of Lambs for 7 or 8 years I am disappointed that the facility looks to have been sold without giving the members a chance to own or save it.  There are far more players at Lambs than anywhere in the City or Surrounds and you would be depriving these people a chance to enjoy an active sport, when it seems the country in encouraging active lifestyles.  The local resources without Lambs would not feasibly cope with the influx of new players meaning that many of us would have to either give up a sport we love or have to play where we live outside of the city. PM 

I wish to object strongly to planning application P052310 and 052334. I have been a member of Lamb’s Squash Club for almost five years and regularly (ie at least twice a week) play squash at Lambs. I would also add that other colleagues in this office also use the facilities provided at Lambs. If Lambs Squash were not available I would reluctantly have to give up playing squash. There are very few alternative facilities in this location; those that do have squash facilities are of variable standard and have a limited number of courts. As I work close to Lamb’s I have found that Lamb’s provide an excellent facility to take regular exercise. If Lamb’s were to close I would no longer have this opportunity since it would be impractical to find a squash club nearer home and play in the evening. I would add that this month (November 2005) a further four divisions have been added to the Squash league at Lambs to cater for the continuing influx of members. I think this demonstrates well the popularity of the sport and the requirement for a facility the size of Lambs to continue to be available in the City. I therefore hope that the Council will take full account of the many hundreds of people that work in Islington and contribute to the Borough and who rely significantly on the social and squash opportunities provided by Lambs. Please reject outright the planning proposals represented by P052310 and 052334.NPL.

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