Redbridge Council makes U-turn on controversial plans to lease West Ham Oakfield Playing Fields.

On Tuesday, Redbridge Council confirmed plans to lease West Ham the playing fields in Fairlop would no longer be going ahead, it has been reported in the Evening Standard.

The statement read: “We will not be pursuing the decision made at Cabinet on October 19 regarding Oakfield Playing Fields.”

The initial plans were announced late last year, with West Ham reportedly putting in a ‘strong bid’ for a long term lease of the Oakfield Playing Fields in order to develop a new training facility. These plans, however, were met with much opposition as amateur club Bealonians FC, who use the land, launched a petition which was signed by more than 11,000 people who strongly opposed the council’s decision.

Bealonians FC, who have 600 players in 29 youth teams and 10 adult teams, have played at Oakfield Playing Fields since 2004. Local residents held a protest in support of the amateur club, with fears the decision allowing West Ham to acquire the land would make Bealonians homeless and cause massive uncertainty to the club’s future.

ExWHUEmployee told The West Ham Way podcast, at the time of the proposed plans, there are indeed other plans on the table to make significant upgrades to West Ham’s current training facilities:

“The club have had interest and registered offers in other areas previously, and have also applied for permission to upgrade Rush Green.”

With the plans no longer set to go ahead, following Redbridge Council’s statement earlier this week, this means grassroots club Bealonians will be able to stay at the Playing Fields in Fairlop, the place they have called home for 20 years now.

Speaking after the council’s statement on Tuesday, Bealonians FC chairman, Terry Barlow said: “Whilst it’s good news that our club still has the opportunity to remain at Oakfield, I’d urge West Ham United to reconsider their need for the site and recognise the disruption and uncertainty they are causing to one of the largest grassroots clubs in the East London and Essex area.”

Written by Finlay Jackson