Opinion: Future is rosy for ‘rich and diverse’ park

New chairman of the City of London Corporation�s, West Ham Park Committee, Oliver Sells, is looking

New chairman of the City of London Corporation�s, West Ham Park Committee, Oliver Sells, is looking forward to new projects in the park. - Credit: Archant

Welcome to my first column as chairman of the City Corporation’s West Ham Park Committee.

West Ham Park is the largest park in the London Borough of Newham and has been owned and maintained by the City Corporation since 1874 when it was opened to the public.

The park has a rich and diverse cultural history spanning back over 400 years. In 2004, English Heritage awarded the site Grade II status on their Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

Over the summer, cricket coaching held at the park by Capital Kids Cricket (CKC) benefited countless local schoolchildren and adults, and the family fun days attracted even more enthusiasts.

It's been a remarkable year for the club, with their Cricket World Cup marking 30 active years of providing a range of sporting and social opportunities for children in the most disadvantaged areas of London. Their festival on Hackney Marshes featured the biggest cricket lesson that has ever taken place, with a staggering 34 pitches, over 1,000 children from 32 London schools all playing cricket at one time.

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The cricket season may soon be over but for Capital Kids Cricket, training at West Ham Park continues into winter.

Lots of people have been asking me what's happening with the nursery site. Although it supplied bedding to other open spaces and to the Square Mile in the City, it wasn't large enough to compete commercially and was found to be financially unviable; it ceased trading in 2015.

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However, this has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find a different use for the site, something that benefits not only the West Ham Park charity, but also our local residents and supporters.

Since its closure, a great deal of work has gone into exploring possibilities for that future use.

A specialist consultancy has prepared options that will be considered at the October meeting of our Committee.

I look forward to sharing the details of this exciting project with you in my future columns as the story unfolds.

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