Huge Support for Efforts to Save Southfields Shooting Range

Wimbledon Park Rifle Club threatened with closure after 120 years

Jon Leech, president of Wimbledon Park Rifle Club, (left) presenting a medal to competitor Keith Ealey (right).
Jon Leech, president of Wimbledon Park Rifle Club, (left) presenting a medal to competitor Keith Ealey (right). Picture: Bernie Ealey

Residents have thrown their support behind a famous shooting club facing demolition. Wimbledon Park Rifle Club will have to shut after around 120 years in the area if the plans go ahead.

ISC Properties has applied to demolish buildings on the Granville Road site, including shooting club buildings, for a nursery, tennis courts and cabin for coaching. A statement with the application says it will benefit the community more and argues more nursery places are needed. It says rifle club members could use nearby clubs.

But more than 410 people have written to Wandsworth Council objecting to the plans. They said some members would have to give up the sport and argued there isn’t enough demand for another nursery and tennis courts in the area. The plans would see the club’s buildings, open air shooting ranges and unofficial allotments demolished.

Irina Lee wrote, “The loss of our thriving, historic 120-year-old club for which there is huge demand, with an active waiting list of over 100 people looking to take up the sport, would have a huge and negative impact on our member[s].

“Closure would mean most shooters that rely on club equipment would have to give up the sport as most other clubs do not have the storage space to be able to hold equipment for you. There would be breakdowns in personal relationships which for many older members are essential for their mental health.”

She added: “There is no demand for another nursery in the area, existing local nurseries in the area have enough capacity and indeed a couple of nurseries have recently closed due to lack of children and lack of staff. Providing three junior tennis courts in an area saturated by tennis is completely unwarranted.”

Pierre-Emmanuel Galisson said, “This club has been in existence for more than a hundred years, and has been the backbone of [the] team GB competition team. Moreover, the heritage of the land and preservation of leisure clubs by the council is paramount to any other development.”

Christopher Wells added: “I have been an active member of WPRC for over 20 years. The club has a proud history and a growing membership and has a good relationship with the local community. With so much building taking place an open-air facility such as exists should be a priority to maintain as once lost in an area such as London cannot be replaced.”

Putney MP Fleur Anderson with some of the club's members
Putney MP Fleur Anderson with some of the club's members

A spokesperson for ISC Properties Ltd said the project would be inclusive, benefit the “entire community” and open the site to more children. The spokesperson said, “The development of a new day nursery at Granville Road will also be of significant benefit to the community in the surrounding area as there is a shortage of professionally run nurseries which open from 7am to 7pm. This presents an issue for parents who wish to drop off and pick up their children at either end of the working day.

“There remains a high demand for full–day nursery space, and we have already received expressions of interest from several companies who would be keen to open a nursery on the site – particularly given the proposed nursery will be A–rated for energy efficiency.

“We have consulted widely on these proposals, making clear the benefits that the development will deliver – including increasing the availability of inclusive appropriate sporting facilities, addressing the demand for full-day nursery care and incorporating new landscaping and biodiversity areas.

“As a result of those consultations, we are considering amendments to the submitted scheme, including reducing the footprint of the physical building to allow growing space which can be used by the nursery. This will ensure that future generations learn about the value of sustainable growing of food and also the biodiversity benefits.”

September 13, 2022