Greendale fields have formed part of the Champion Hill site for over 100 years and were at one time home to the Football Club. As part of the redevelopment of Champion Hill in the early 1990s, a new astroturf pitch was built and the land leased to Dulwich Hamlet Football Club from Southwark Council. Whilst there were for many years successful football leagues which took place on the astroturf pitches, successive owners of the Football Club gave little thought for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the site and it started to fall into disrepair. The site was subject to a planning application for a new stadium in the late 1990s which did not materialise.
When Greendale Property Group bought the freehold to Champion Hill in 2014, the project managers for the planned redevelopment, Hadley Property Group, sought to rectify some of the issues including Japanese knotweed and also stopped a weekly bootfair which was taking place and using the astroturf pitch. DHST also urged the developers to engage with Southwark Council to renew the lease which was due to expire in 2015. As the site had been left to fall into disrepair much of it was overgrown and had developed into a naturally biodiverse habitat for many plants and animals. It was around this time that the Friends of Greendale were formed and sought to protect and enhance the site from the threat of redevelopment.
Despite a promising start in trying to manage the site properly, it did not last and with the change from Hadley Property Group to Meadow Residential in October 2016, the site was given even less attention. Given that the site formed a fundamental part of the proposed redevelopment, it seemed very odd that the developers did not give greater importance to doing everything possible to ensure the lease was renewed and the owners of the site (Southwark Council) would not stand in their way when it came to renewing the lease or indeed, determining the planning application. To further illustrate the almost suicidal nature of Meadow’s actions, they hired the astroturf pitch out to a group who organised soundystem weekends where loud music, barbecues and drinking were very much the order of the day. This culminated in an event on one weekend during the summer of 2017 which resulted in numerous complaints and reports that the music could be heard some way up Lordship Lane. Fortunately for DHFC, the Council did not find them guilty of any wrongdoing however, it was another nail in the coffin for Meadow’s hopes to renew the lease on behalf of DHFC.
In October 2017, a hearing took place at Central London County Court between Southwark Council and Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. Meadow, acting on behalf of the Football Club, under an agreement signed with the majority shareholder, Nick McCormack, instructed lawyers to seek an adjournment in determining whether the lease would be renewed or not. The case against the Football Club was lost and this kicked off a series of events where Meadow opted to withdraw their planning application appeals and all financial support and management for the Football Club. The costs of the case are currently set against Dulwich Hamlet Football Club despite the whole case and any instructions coming from Meadow – a consequence of the agreement made between the Club’s majority shareholder, Nick McCormack and Meadow.
In 20 January 2018, the site was returned to Southwark Council’s care. In February 2018 Southwark Council sought to make improvements to Greendale but to date have been prevented from doing so due to Meadow physically illustrating their land ownership by closing off the private access road which the Council would require to access the site.
Updated February 2018