Controversy Over Plan To Allow A Street Food Stall On Turnham Green

A food vendor will 'destroy the nature' of the award winning park

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A decision by Hounslow Council to grant permission to a street food vendor to be based in the park at Turnham Green, has become controversial, with one local councillor saying it was not acceptable that the area become "a cash cow for Hounslow at the expense of local residents."

The Friends of Turnham Green are also opposed to the idea. They recently voted unanimously against the proposal and are opposed to what is common land being used for commercial gain.

Councillor Adrian Lee says he is 100 per cent opposed to allowing a concession to a food vendor. "It will change the nature of Turnham Green and is wholly against the spirit of the Ombudsman's statement of 1999."

The catering van at another location

He said local councillors were not informed of the plan by the Parks department of the Council and this was disgraceful. Hounslow Council has, after tendering, awarded the concession to Fitaly, which focuses on Italian-inspired healthy eating.

Cllr Lee said he agreed with the Friends of Turnham Green group who are concerned over potential pollution and litter. There were plenty of cafes and eateries nearby. The smell of food cooking would irritate locals in nearby properties in summer if their windows were open. It was against the nature of the park to turn it into a commercial area.

Turnham Green has consistently retained a Green Flag award from Keep Britain Tidy as one of the best parks in London.

Fitaly (formerly based on the South Bank) operates out of a vintage Citroen van and plans to offer vegan and gluten-free wraps as well as drinks and takeaway provisions such as organic honey. The hours of operation would be 8 am until dusk.

The Council's parks department accepts that there is some 'trepidation' about the idea of the siting of concession, and says that it has put in place a number of safeguards in place.

"Following our successful tender for concession license across a number of our Park, the council has accepted the offer from Fitality to operate a mobile catering concession on Turnham Green. Fitality is offering a high quality operation along with a strong emphasis on promoting healthy eating which very much complement our council’s Public Health ethos."

(The company's name is Fitaly, not Fitality)

map of locations for Fitaly

The Council's suggested locations for the catering van

There would be an obligation to maintain the area around the concession free from litter and reinstating any damage caused. There would be a restriction on the use of a generator of other noise/polluting sources. The location chosen would ensure that a vehicle would not have to travel over a large stretch of a lawned area.

A spokesperson for the Friends of Turnham Green said: “The plan to put a catering van on Turnham Green has proved extremely unpopular with our membership. In addition to which our landscape committee unanimously voted that they were not in favour when the idea was first put to them in September.

"A number of our members have raised concerns about the amount of additional litter the van will produce and point out that there is already handsome existing provision for food and drink all around the Green. Others have raised the issue of land ownership since, according to our legal advice, only the strip from the Church to the High Street appears to belong to LBH. The rest is common land.

"If common land is to be commercially exploited by the council in this way - and this does seems to be a done deal - I believe that the fairest thing to do would be to share a proportion of the resulting revenue with the Friends group in order to help us in our on-going struggle to raise sufficient funds to maintain the rockery, wildflower meadow, herb bed and Town Hall flower bed. It may not be widely known that apart from litter collection, maintenance of the war memorial and grass cutting, the maintenance of these areas now seems to have devolved entirely to us.”

Fitaly uses the wholefoods concept of Abruzzo, central Italy, to bring natural gluten free and vegan foods to the concept of street foods. Its menu would include three healthy wraps such as lamb and rosemary, or sweet potato wrap. They believe the takeaway would suit a range of local customers from working professionals snatching a quick lunch, to parents with young children, gym users, and retired people or tourists.

They also sell ‘clean’ Italian non-perishable products for home consumption (100% Natural honey, spelt pasta, chocolate, biscotti). None of the food is processed or refined; it is mostly organic wholefood shipped directly from Abruzzo.


October 16, 2017

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