Residents near a Beckenham Park have expressed their shock after their beloved social club was closed by the council over rent arrears only to find it allegedly being used as a site for dogging.

The Foxgrove Club in Beckenham Place Park, off Westgate Road, was closed at the end of September by Lewisham Council after running for decades.

Used as a social club, the council took possession of the building following debt racked up by the club after they were unable to afford the rent.

Property Guardians have been installed to watch over the building, which the council says they receive income from.

But residents have come forward to say since the building was vacated there has been an increase in fly tipping and dogging.

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Jamie Summers, 65, was a regular user of the Foxgrove since 1978 until it closed down.

He told News Shopper: “It was a dog walker that made me aware that was what was going on, a dog walker telling me dogging was going on.

“Apparently that’s happened quite a few times. This is why we’re concerned, that these property guardians didn’t see the flytipping happen and haven’t seen any deviant sexual practices, it does raise questions how well they are protecting it.”

An online ad posted on Craigslist by one user advertised a liaison behind the clubhouse. 

The retired software consultant said: “At the entrance to the park in Westgate Road there’s parking spaces for four cars, and it’s consistently being used for flytipping, but it can be seen from the road so it’s cleared up quite quickly.

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The advert online

“Now people know there’s no one in the clubhouse what they do is drive in the driveway which goes around a whole bunch of trees to a parking lot.

“No one’s ever going to see there unless people are walking around, but it could be in full view of children or whoever is in the park.”

Fellow resident Sophie Tick, from near London Road, expressed her sadness over the current state of the club

Addressing the council, she said: “As a daily user of Beckenham Place Park I'm concerned that since Lewisham Council's closure of the Foxgrove Club, the space is attracting some very unsavoury activities.

“’Dogging’ in the car park - is this how you envisioned the future for what used to be a useful and valued community asset?”

Mr Summers, from near Bromley Road, said the club declined over a number of years: “Because of the increased rent repairs to the building couldn’t be handled by the club.

“Lewisham Council now being the landlord have made no renovations to the building at all.

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“Windows frames are rotting away and need to be fixed, doors need to be fixed. They were taking rent but not doing any repairs.

“They drove it into the ground.”

The council has advertised for a business or social enterprise who wish to rent the building to come forward, while they "explore other uses" for the site.

But the club, as part of the wider Beckenham Place Park, could be transformed using Heritage Lottery Funding.

A stage one bid for lottery funding was submitted for the 98 hectare park last year – which includes removing the 18 hole golf course.

The fund approved the bid and £4.9 million was allocated, and a decision is to be made by the cabinet and mayor, Sir Steve Bullock, in February next year on whether to proceed with the second stage of the bid.

But in the meantime, Mr Summers said the future of the club house ‘was up in the air, adding: “They’ve not said one thing about what they intend to do with it, whether they will restore it or demolish it, they’ve not issued any statement.”

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A campaign to save the golf course has attracted widespread support, with an online campaign reaching more than 2,000 signatures.

A parliamentary candidate for this year’s election, David Hansom, even stood as an independent for Lewisham West and Penge on behalf of the Save the Beckenham 18 campaign.

A council spokesperson said: “Property guardians are currently occupying the building where the Foxgrove Club was based under interim security arrangements.”

Anyone who sees flytipping should report it on 020 8314 7171 or call the police on 101 if they see any suspicious activities.

For information on the Heritage Lottery Bid visit: www.lewisham.gov.uk