A community group is "bitterly disappointed" over plans to build an "elitist" indoor athletics track in an Eltham park.
Friends of Sutcliffe Park (FoSP) were horrified when outline planning permission was granted to build the facilities over a large chunk of green space in Sutcliffe Park, off Eltham Road.
Greenwich Council says the development, next to an existing outdoor athletics track, would create year-round training, gym facilities, a café, public toilets and would attract young people to take up sport.
But FoSP are concerned about the loss of park space, the ecological impact, increased traffic to the area and proposals to build a large car park at the site.
FoSP secretary Julia Grollman said: “We are bitterly disappointed that they have pushed this through.
“The first impact would be you would lose green space.
“It would alter the character of the park substantially with an enormous building and a car park would cause immense traffic congestion because we have a big crossroads.
“It ignores the fact the park is already used for all health benefits, so you are depriving original park users of space to improve their mental and physical health.”
FoSP members handed two petitions against the plans, which they claim they were not consulted about, and say they will continue to campaign on the issue.
FoSP chairman John Briggs added: “There are better places, rather than to build on a park.
“Athletics is perceived to be quite an elitist sport and you won’t get the local youngsters accessing it, which is one of the key arguments for it.”
He went on to say other sites would be more suitable rather than building on Metropolitan Open Land.
The plan was opposed by four councillors but pushed through by three cabinet members and the whip after a 4-4 drawn vote at a planning board meeting on May 6.
Greenwich Conservative leader Councillor Spencer Drury said: “This blatant attempt to hoodwink residents was not appropriate and the whole application needed to be withdrawn.
“The athletics centre would be a lot less controversial if it could be shifted towards the existing track.”
A Greenwich Council spokeswoman said: "The authority is pleased this application has received outline consent.
"The proposal aims to build on the existing sports facility at Sutcliffe Park to create a complex that can be used all year round, with training facilities from grassroots to elite specialist sports.
“It would aim to specifically provide facilities for people with disabilities and to attract young people to take up sport.”
She added a number of issues raised would be addressed before applying for fully planning consent.
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