Last night, I went to a meeting organised by Monks Orchard Residents Association at which the Crystal Palace Football Club Supporters Trust presented their plans for a new training facility for the club on Ashburton Playing Fields.
The club lease their current training facility in Beckenham and that lease comes to an end in the summer of 2013. They therefore need a new facility and the new owners have asked the Supporters Trust if they will provide this.
The Trust have talked to Croydon Council, who have identified three potential sites of the necessary size (5-6 football pitches) in the borough - a site on the border of Croydon and Merton, Purley Way playing fields and Ashburton playing fields. From the Trust's point of view, the Purley Way site is non-ideal because it is so exposed; the first site is their preferred option but it is privately owned and they don't know if they can afford the cost of acquiring and redeveloping it; Ashburton playing fields is their second choice.
It is to their credit that they wanted to get residents' views - in particular on what they could do to improve the remainder of the site if the Council allows them to lease and develop part of it - before finalising their plans.
However there was strong opposition to developing any of the site given the lack of green space in the area and certainly a unanimous feeling that what was proposed involved taking too much - and the best bits - of the site.
The Trust will need to reflect on the feedback they received. I admire them for being willing to dig deep in their own pockets to help the club they support and it would be good to see the training facility somewhere in Croydon so as to preserve the link between the club and the town if the club go ahead with their plans to move to Crystal Palace Park. Ultimately, however, my job as the local MP is to support the people I was elected to represent and that is what I shall do.