CHISWICK BACK COMMON TENNIS COURTS
by: Head of Cultural Strategy, Partnerships
report provides information on the purpose,
the history and current position regarding
the proposal to award a management contract
in regard to tennis courts located on
Chiswick Back Common.
initial work on this project commenced
in February 1995 and is currently on going.
Ward Councillors have expressed theirs
and the local community's frustrations
at the delay in bringing this project
to a satisfactory conclusion.
June 2000 there have been 4 written reports
to CAC Monitoring regarding the proposal.
Executive are due to consider the letting
of the management contract to Community
1.1 That Members note this report and the lessons
learnt from the review.
That Members endorse the proposal to put in
place new and additional arrangements for the
effective management for small projects and
to consider further measures to enhance the
2.1 The existing tennis courts at Chiswick
Back Common (also known as Chiswick Common)
had become unsuitable for use, with little
investment into the courts having taken place.
They were at that time effectively not fit
for use and needed considerable capital investment
to bring them into use. As a result, it was
agreed that we should seek an investment partner
who would provide capital funding in exchange
for the right to provide a range of professional
tennis coaching. TFC Leisure Limited (TFC)
was selected as the Council's preferred partner,
following advertisement of the opportunity
to improve tennis facilities within the Borough.
2.2 Chiswick Back Common is registered as Common
Land under the Commons Registration Act 1965.
However, at that time officers were not aware
of this fact and it was later to cause a significant
delay in this process. Under the Ministry of
Housing and Local Government Provisional Order
Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open
Spaces) Act 1967, the Council may deal with
such land to provide facilities to the public
or grant any person the right to do so. However,the
Council may not grant a Lease or other legal
interest in the land and this,therefore, governs
the form of any legal documentation entered
In addition, if any building or other structure
(such as new floodlights or fences) is to be
erected on common land under Section 12 of
the 1967 Act, the Secretary of State's consent
is required. As part of this procedure, it
is necessary to advertise the proposals and
for the Secretary to consider any objections
3. TYPE OF OPERATION BEING PROPOSED
3.1 TFC has successfully operated a similar
facility at Rocks Lane, Barnes, since 1992,
on Common Land held by Richmond Council. This
facility comprises 6 all-weather floodlit courts,
4 hard courts, clubhouse (constructed by the
Council) and changing facilities housed in
former public conveniences. Richmond Council
confirms that TFC was originally given a 10-year
agreement with no Use Fee payable in return
for the capital investment being made of some
agreement has recently been extended for a
further 13 years in return for the upgrading
of the 4 hard courts to all-weather courts
and a new children's play area to reflect the
further investment of circa f200,000.
TFC will be granted planning permission for
works to the existing courts at Chiswick Back
Common on completion of Section 106 Agreement.
The details of the proposed development are:-
o The construction of 3 tennis courts and upgrading
and floodlighting to the existing tennis courts,
renovation of existing brick building and erection
of building housing temporary changing rooms
in accordance with the approved plans and specifications,
within an agreed timescale (Phase 1).
o Alterations to tennis courts and floodlighting,
erection of tennis centre building and creation
of delivery access point (Phase 2).
EVOLUTION AND CRITIQUE OF THE PROJECT
4.1 The progress of this project has taken
from 1995 and is currently ongoing. A chronological
list of action and the time those actions took
are set out below. A critique of the circumstances
as to why it has taken this amount of time
has revealed the following.
4.2 The project, whilst being recognised as
being important to the local community, represented
a small scale development involving an external
company and therefore, in the context of competing
demands at the time, failed to have the necessary
resource or focus within the Council and subsequently
4.3 It is evident that working across departments
and external agencies to achieve a project
is not easy and considerable focus is necessary
to provide the required level of co-ordination
and maintain a level momentum.
4.4 Within the then Leisure Services Department
and subsequently CIP, there was no one officer
assigned to lead the project and take responsibility
to deliver the scheme. This in part was due
to it being located in a park and at the same
time considered a capital development. This
lack of clarity has in part continued, which
compounded the delays, some of which may not
have be avoidable but
resulted in little progress and infrequent
reports to the Area Committee.
4.5 Considerable time delays were encountered
due to the (late) realisation that the land
was in fact common land and therefore the lease
information that had been prepared was not
4.6 The list of events set out below does confirm
the periods of several months between actions
and reflects that it was not given the highest
priority by all the departments and agencies
LESSONS LEARNT AND PLANNED IMPROVEMENTS
5.1 The most significant factor in this review
was a failure to assign the responsibility
for ensuring this project was efficiently delivered.
As a result, there was no clear
project management and resulting responsibility
and thereby accountability. Whilst there is
always an issue of resource allocation and
competing demands for officer time, this is
a constant factor and has to form part of the
constraints to be taken into account.
Clearly the development of the new arrangements
for the governance of the Council through the
Executive and establishment of Area Committees
has strengthened the role of Members and their
link to specific projects. The introduction
of a Lead Member is seen to further strengthen
the effective management and communications
necessary to keep both Members and the community
informed of progress on such schemes.
For the future, there a number of improvements
which have already been implemented to ensure
this situation does not repeat itself. These
o At the outset of any project/partnership
a project plan is to be established
which will indicates the timescale including
a completion date, funding and
any risk factors to be considered.
o The Authority will through the client officer
ensure regular update reports
are prepared for the Area Committee /Lead Member
and Executive as
o The dates for the reports and consultation
will be built into the project
o A Lead Member will be sought to sponsor the
project where the scale of the project is considered
o This project plan will include commitments
and timetable for responses from any third
party so as to coordinate the work programme,
thereby reducing unnecessary delays.
6 is a timetable of the events that happened
between 1995 and the present day)
7.1 TFC sought to obtain Planning Permission
for the proposed development before entering
into detailed negotiations with the Council
in 1999. The negotiations have been protracted
due to the need to create an extended Management
Agreement rather than a Lease.
Before any agreement can be completed, it will
be necessary to obtain Ministerial Consent
for the erection of floodlights to the existing
7 courts, the construction of 3 new courts
and for the erection of a building on Common
Land. Confirmation from the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners that they have no interest in
the land will also be sought.
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