A sports development planned for Southall has been given a frosty reception by neighbours, who claim the council is ‘gifting’ the site to Queens Park Rangers.
Warren Farm sports ground is set for a £30million makeover from the Premier League football club.
However, following a public meeting in Hanwell last week organised by the council, Olde Hanwell Residents’ Association said it had several fears, in particular that the low price QPR will be paying for the land is tantamount to it being ‘gifted’ to the club.
The association’s Malcolm Weller said: "The concern is that in terms of what QPR will be paying for the site as a one-off, rather than Ealing Council making income from leasing it to them, is relatively very little.
"There is also concern about how many sporting fixtures residents will be able to hold at the ground once QPR takes over. Currently there are three to four games of cricket and football there every Sunday, but that could all stop. Representatives from QPR did try to address us, but I think we all thought their responses were flimsy."
One resident who attended the public meeting, but did not wish to be named, said: “They tried to duck the issue by going on at length about the amount of money QPR will be spending on the site. However, they were eventually forced to admit that the club will be paying nothing at all to the council. That did not go down well.”
Ealing Council chose the club last year as its preferred partner for redeveloping the ground, which had fallen into disrepair.
The proposal includes training facilities for the club with a two-storey building, a three-storey multi-functional building, as well as three first-team pitches and seven academy/youth pitches.
QPR has said they will involve community groups in the project.
An Ealing Council spokeswoman said: “The council has entered into an agreement to develop with QPR and negotiations about the site are still on-going. The land has certainly not, nor will it be, ‘gifted’ to the club.
“At a time when budgets are being cut and other councils are forced to close sports facilities, we have been looking into new ways to invest in them to offer the community long-term access to excellent facilities.”
She added that plans are subject to planning permission and further public consultation.
The club would be responsible for constructing, maintaining and operating the redeveloped facilities at no cost to the council or taxpayer, it says. An advisory panel, including representatives from the community, council, QPR and sports organisations, has also been set up for consultation purposes and to develop a community plan for the site.
QPR were asked to comment but had not replied by the time the Gazette went to press.