Dulwich Hamlet FC: London Assembly member criticises “appalling and unacceptable” property developers

Property developers Meadow Residential are bullying Dulwich Hamlet F.C and holding the club to ransom, according to London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon MBE.

Meadow Residential own Hamlet’s Champion Hill ground and wish to build on it, but their proposal was rejected by Southwark because it did not meet the council’s 35% target for affordable housing.

Earlier this month, the American company evicted the non-league club from their home, forcing them to play home games at Tooting and Mitcham United’s Imperial Fields ground.

Mrs Pidgeon, an East Dulwich resident and former Southwark councillor, said: “It’s bullying quite frankly and they’re trying to hold people to ransom.

“To not work with the community or the council is just absolutely appalling and unacceptable.”

Southwark Council, in an attempt to save the club, recently voted in favour of purchasing the land from Meadow Residential and building social housing on the site of a current car park.

But the developers have already rejected a £10 million bid from Rio Ferdinand’s affordable housing foundation.

Mrs Pidgeon continued:  “What we need is the council to be able to purchase the land, supported by the Mayor, and come up with a scheme that does allow some building but supports the football club at the heart of the East Dulwich community.

“We need to secure the football club, secure some affordable housing and make sure Dulwich Hamlet stays at its home.”

The London Assembly member has tabled a written question to London Mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure he is acting in support of the South London club.

She believes there is a wider problem when it comes to powerful landowners exploiting struggling clubs in London.

“We’ve seen this with AFC Wimbledon,” she added. “There is a real issue that land is worth so much in London. Speculative developers come in and buy sites, looking at how they can develop it to sweat the asset.

“They’re not interested in the football club – they may pretend to be. They’re interested in the land and what they can make out of it.

“We’ve got to start protecting some of these clubs because they’re vital community assets.”

Meadow Residential did not respond to requests for comment.

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