Hilly Fields Cricket Centre plans revealed

The approximate site of the new cricket square is marked in bright green

Brockley village already has plenty of warm beer and bicycling nuns (well, Headhunter). Now, we are getting cricket on our green. Following the recent revelation that funding has been secured to create a new cricket pitch in Hilly Fields, we’re happy to be able to give you the story in greater detail.

This a much bigger and more exciting project than simply mowing the grass. The objective is to create a sporting centre of excellence in Hilly Fields with re-built cricket squares, renovated outfields and improved changing facilities for use by local schools and clubs like Catford’s Cyphers and Wanderers. The team have already had expressions of interest from a range of nearby Clubs and there has been some fighting talk from a few Brockley Central readers about putting together a pub team or two. Football will also be able to share the new facilities and better playing surfaces.

The Hilly Fields pitch should be ready to play cricket on by April 2011.

The project is the result of collaboration between Brockley social enterprise Envirowork Lewisham, Lewisham Council and Teachsport, supported by funding from the Big Lottery, The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The London Marathon Charitable Trust.

£75,000 has been acquired from the London Marathon Trust for the construction of the squares and £243,000 from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund to support the development of the project in its first three years. It is intended for the project to become financially sustainable within 4 years. The new facilities are projected to serve approximately 3,500 players per year plus 50 schools, cricket and football clubs and community groups over 3 years across both grounds.

Envirowork Lewisham employs and trains long term unemployed people in groundsmanship skills and has depots at both Mayow Park and Hilly Fields. Project Director, Peter Ranken, approached the ECB to see if it would fund the regeneration of the grounds at both parks which would then be maintained by Envirowork trainees as part of a training programme to develop career opportunities in grounds management.
Led by Mike Gatting, the ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships and ex England Captain, who has visited both parks, the ECB has agreed to fund up to 75% of the construction of the squares at both grounds and provide money for equipment for the project which will be called ParkSport Lewisham. The ECB sees the projects at Mayow Park and Hilly Fields as a way of re-invigorating cricket in the local community. The grounds will be multi-use, with football played on them throughout the winter.

When we reported the story there were some legitimate questions asked about whether stray balls could end up damaging nearby cars or houses. As you can see from the image above, the pitch will be located as far away from the roads as possible and that the cover from the London Plane trees at the edge of the park will offer further protection. Cricket has been played on Hilly Fields since 1896 and the game was played regularly here as recently as the 1980s. Local residents were consulted in the project’s early stages.

The project will be in three stages. Stage one beginning in May/June this year will be the construction of squares of 12 to16 pitches to meet ECB minimum standards with the contract being managed by the Council. The outfields will be prepared by Envirowork with the intention of the grounds being ready for use for the 2011 season.

Stage two will be the temporary renovation of the existing buildings at Envirowork’s depot in Hilly Fields. Once operational, the grounds at both Hilly Fields and Mayow Park will be managed and maintained by Envirowork working under contract to the Council. The ParkSport team will be working in partnership with Teachsport who will provide coaching sessions and manage school and district games.

Stage three (subject to successful funding bids) will be the construction of new buildings at Envirowork Lewisham’s depot at Hilly Fields to complement the existing ‘Bothy’ built in 1893. This will allow for an increase in changing facilities to include showers and access for people with disabilities. There will also be an opportunity to include Caf├ęs for public use together with other community facilities.

Prior to any plans being drawn up full consultations will be held with user groups and local residents and it is anticipated that work could begin in late 2011.