An application for the development of a mini-golf course on Clapham Common was rejected on 17 January after longstanding opposition by environmental groups and residents.
Mini-golf company Putt in the Park (PITP) originally requested permission in April 2019 to convert 3400 square metres of Clapham Common’s Bowling Greens into landscaped putting greens.
The site was also planned to include a café and toilet block.
PITP already has existing London developments in Battersea Park, Wandsworth Park, and Acton Park.
The proposed works on Clapham Common pledged to plant bee-friendly shrubs, trees and wildflowers, as well as to build a 100m2 water feature.
However, since the plans were first made public, they have been met with significant backlash from local residents and environmental organisations, and were eventually refused last Monday.
One organisation which vehemently protested against the PITP development is Friends of Clapham Common (FCC), a group made up of around 500 members who work to protect the Common and run regular projects to improve its biodiversity and restore its buildings and facilities.
When the development was announced FCC launched an online petition which received 5,000 signatures.
FFC member Gareth James, who works as a landscape designer, pointed out that the laying of plastic grass on Clapham Common proposed by PITP was one of the main reasons why the development was publicly opposed, and ultimately rejected.
James said: “Plastic grass contributes massively to Global Warming as, unlike natural grass, it overheats in sunshine.
“It is also extruded from petrochemicals and is non-recyclable.”
James further argued that the presentation of PITP’s plans for the Common was an example of ‘greenwashing’: “The minimal planting scheme that was to go into the putting course involved the construction of hybridized plants created for human appeal, but which would not provide the biodiversity needed for native wildlife.
“From our point of view, it would have been an act of extreme self-harm to suffocate Common land by covering it in plastic grass.”
Clapham Common lies within the Boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth.
Both Wandsworth Council and Lambeth Council have declared climate emergencies, and Lambeth council has also declared an ecological emergency.
Another reason for the widespread opposition of the development was that, should the application have been granted, the rights of public access across Common land would have been lost, as PITP would have built an enclosure around part of the Common requiring visitors to pay to enter.
Contrary to the likes of Battersea Park, which is fenced off during the night, Clapham Common remains open and free for public use.
A statement published by Wandsworth Conservatives also argued: “Putt in the Park would change this peaceful residential area by increasing traffic in the day and evening, and running the risk of creating noise and light nuisance for residents.”
Image credits: Flickr