Fishponds Playing Fields to remain open during Easter holiday

Published: Thursday, March 25, 2021

Families living near Fishponds Playing Fields in Tooting will be able to continue using it for exercise and play throughout the school Easter holiday, it has been announced.

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The playing fields, which have been open for community use since January, will remain open until the late afternoon of Sunday, April 18.

From that date onwards the playing fields will revert to their normal use, which is for organised team sports. Residents will still be able to access the space when it has been booked for use by a local school or club, but at other times it will remain closed.

As the name implies, Fishponds Playing Fields exists for the use of local schools, colleges and sports clubs for organised team sports like football, rugby and cricket. As one of a scarce number of designated sports pitch sites in the borough it is not compatible with general leisure use.

Wandsworth’s director of environment and community services Paul Chadwick said: “Because organised team sports were not permitted under Covid regulations we took the decision to open up these sports pitches for the use of the local community so they had somewhere to exercise during lockdown.

“With the easing of lockdown rules coinciding with the start of the Easter schools’ break, we’ve decided to keep the playing fields open so that local children and families have somewhere to play and exercise while not at school.

“However, once the Easter holiday is over and children return to classrooms the playing fields will revert to their normal use.”

On average Fishponds is used by local clubs and schools for more than 1,600 hours of sports activities every year - equivalent to more than 1,000 football matches. It has been officially designated as sports playing fields by national watchdog organisation Sport England, which has statutory planning powers to safeguard playing fields.

Upto and including Sunday, April 18, the site will remain open between 8am and 4pm and the borough’s parks and open spaces bylaws will remain in force. Dogs are not permitted and nor are cyclists or picnics. People should also comply with social distancing rules, and it is vital that that people do not leave or drop litter.

Some areas are likely to remain fenced off to protect playing surfaces. Visitors should not enter these areas.

Mr Chadwick added: “We do need people to respect the playing fields. In the past we have had people leaving litter including broken glass on the sports pitches which is totally unacceptable. There have also been occasions when the site has been open to the public and the changing rooms have been broken into. If visitors don’t respect the playing fields we will be forced to reconsider this decision.”

Outside its opening hours, the gates will remain locked to prevent anti-social behaviour, which has previously been reported by residents whose homes back onto the site. Anyone witnessing anti-social behaviour at the playing fields is urged to contact the Wandsworth Parks Police service.