Green campaigners have slammed plans to build Dulwich Hamlet’s proposed new stadium on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) at the Green Dale Fields.
The development, which would include a new clubhouse, leisure facility and 155 homes, was showcased at a series of exhibitions at the club’s current Champion Hill ground last month.
However, the proposals by developers and club owners Hadley to build the new stadium over an astro-turf pitch and a portion of the fields themselves, located to the west of the current ground, have alarmed supporters of the area’s green spaces.
Jasia Warren, chair of Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood, said: “Green Dale is used by many locals daily who love the calm green oasis for dog walking, jogging, blackberry picking and informal kickabouts on the astro turf.
“Allowing the stadium to be built on MOL could open the door to developers building on MOL elsewhere.”
Southwark Council have their own plans to “enhance” the Green Dale Fields, which are being incorporated into Hadley’s proposals – although residents argue that these plans will also prove detrimental to the wildlife area.
Jasia said: “The council does indeed have plans to sanitise and formalise the fields, but these plans are also questioned by locals who see the value in leaving it as a wild space with minimal intervention and management. Many rare species are to be found there, including hedgehogs and White Throat [a warbler] which migrate there from Africa.”
Other residents echoed Jasia’s concerns, including resident Simon Hughes, who said the proposals were causing an unnecessary rift in the community. He said: “The football club does not need a new stadium to survive: it needs good financial management and good football and is presently doing well. It can build a new stadium on the existing stadium footprint and football fans and the local community will both be rewarded.
“Hadley want to build on MOL to maximise profit and is not bothered if it splits the conservation and footballing communities and kills off the wildlife.”
A spokesperson for Hadley said: “We’ve facilitated numerous works that Friends of Greendale have requested, and consistently taken their advice on how best to look after the site before it is returned to the community. We firmly believe that Greendale is a better place to visit since we first got involved at Champion Hill, and have no plans for that to change whatsoever.
“Whilst we acknowledge that the existing, derelict artificial pitch is in designated MOL, we are proposing that only stadium boundaries are actually built on Greendale. By bringing the pitch back in closer towards the existing stadium site, we have managed to ensure that the clubhouse, the leisure facility, and of course the housing, will only be built on land we own – not on Greendale at all. The new floodlights will be lower in height than those currently in use, and will significantly decrease light pollution at the site.”
The News contacted the council for a comment on Tuesday morning, but did not receive a reply by the time of going to press.