Y Buildings application resubmitted

The developer resubmitted their planning application (Ref: DC/21/03120/RESPA) on 12th July for the change of use of these buildings, in the grounds of Bromley Civic Centre, to enable them to form 73 very small residential units. This application was previously rejected by Bromley council planning committee as they considered it part of the curtilage of the Bromley Palace. Despite this the developer has re-submitted their application in which they argue against this. To see this application CLICK HERE. If you have any comments on this you should submit them by the end of July.

We continue to object to this application, as it will impact the adjacent on the following grounds –

  • It is an over-development of these buildings, each residential unit being far too small for housing needs.
  • It will seriously impact the public access to the park via the Rafford Way access.

To find out more about Bromley Palace Park and our associated campaigns please CLICK HERE

Mill Pond Pollution

Yet again the Mill Pond in Glassmill Lane has been polluted, this time with either petrol or light diesel oil. This was spotted on Saturday morning and reported to the Environment Agency. Thames Water staff have now fitted booms to contain the problem, both at the entrance to the pond, as well as downstream just inside Queens Mead.

An earlier pollution incident

This incident is particularly worrying as it comes when ducks etc are starting breeding. Already several moorhen chicks have been lost. This also greatly impacts smaller invertebrates living in the water or silt. In the absence of any rainfall it is to be sincerely hoped that this pollutant will soon dissipate. This part of the Ravensbourne is sadly recognised by Thames Water as a portion ‘hot spot’, with illegal dumping and domestic plumbing misconnections. They are having some difficulties locating many of the sources of such pollution.

The Mill Pond is currently the subject of a plan to upgrade this historic pond. Led by Thames21, with support from the Friends of Bromley Town Parks & Gardens, Environment Agency, Thames Water, etc. it is hoped that funding for this can be agreed in the coming months. In the meantime you can find out more about our plans at http://bit.ly/2hrtoyp

If you wish to get more immediately involved in volunteer days at the Mill Pond please contact chair@bromleytownparks.org.uk


Parks are often places where we each can experience personal memories, both fleeting and life changing. Occasionally we also come across instances where people wish to mark life events important to them, from the unusual such as this ‘pagan’ celebration of spring found some years ago in Bromley Palace Park…..

Straw ‘Beltane’ cross, Bromley Palace Park, February 2017

…or the celebration of a life sadly lost, as in the following found very recently in Church House Gardens. In this latter case it sought to inform us all of life changing issues and how to help overcome them. A very positive message.

Memorial to Polly, Church House Gardens

Of course not all such ‘memorials’ have to be temporary. In several of our town centre parks permanent memorials can be found. From a tree planted in celebration of a town twinning (Bromley Palace Park), or an anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II (Queen’s Garden), or indeed the opening of the park itself in 1900 (Queen’s Garden).

Plaque celebrating ‘The Queen’s Garden’ opening in 1900

Alternatively on a more personal level, a tree or memorial bench for a much-loved family member. The latter can be found in a number of our parks often linked to that person. Unfortunately this can sometimes create a bit of a problem, with some favoured spaces becoming potentially overwhelmed with them. So in each case we and the parks administration endeavour to work sympathetically, with the family requesting such a memorial. These benches can be expensive to both install and maintain, so much care is taken on the most appropriate type of bench and its sighting, and so to best satisfy everybody’s needs.

Memorial bench, Martins Hill

So as you take a rest in our parks, please have of look, and if appropriate, why not give a thought about the person whose life is celebrated by the bench you are sitting on.

Spring is busting out!

With the daylight hours gradually getting longer and weather a bit better our thoughts turn to spring; with its flowers, birds, insects, etc. emerging to cheer us up. However this blog isabout another sort of spring! I am referring to those occasional rivulets of water that emerge, seemingly from nowhere, out of the ground. This phenomenon often occurs at a ‘spring line’, that is a layer where an overlying porous soil meets a more impervious layer below. If this occurs on a slope, at this point the water emerges as a spring line. Such an emergence is more likely to happen if there has previously been a period of heavy rainfall, thereby topping up the amount of water temporarily stored underground in the aquifer.

Due to its geological nature, with a sandy and stony soil (i.e. Blackheath Beds) underlying much of the town centre, there are several such springs in central Bromley. Indeed there is one in Bromley Palace Park, which is called St.Blaise’s Well. There are also some springs on the lower slopes of Martins Hill. Here water encounters a layer of clay and emerges, then running along on the surface until it ten gradually seeps away into the surrounding soil. In the areas more rural past these springs often fed small ponds where animals could then drink from. The lake in Church House Gardens, were originally a number of fish ponds, fed by a spring. This caused some significant problems when the foundations of the Churchill Theatre were excavated.

Springs, Martins Hill, February 2021 by Tony Banfield

Each year several of our Friends group has conducted a tour around our local springs, entitled “The Secret Springs of Bromley Town” (see below). This has been popular with the public, but last year sadly this had to be curtailed due to the coronavirus restrictions. It seems that such a public walk will not be possible in 2021. However in the meantime you can still investigate individually – but wear suitable shoes it can be muddy – enjoy!

Poster for an earlier event in 2017

Bromley parks consultation

Daffodils on Martins Hill

In the past few weeks Bromley council have been consulting on their draft Open Spaces Strategy. The closing date for submissions was 7th January 2021. We as well as other Friends groups, other groups and members of the public from across the borough, totalling about 800, are understood to have responded to this draft document. We felt that the document was poorly laid out and very difficult to read, and that the associated online survey was severely limited in its options. So therefore instead we sent them a detailed submission.

The main points of our response included –

  • We welcomed the recognition of important role of Friends and other local community groups.
  • The true financial value to our health and well being (aka ‘Natural Capital’) of our green spaces is not to be quantified, as against asset value by “repurposing” (e.g. sale for commercial development).
  • Concerned that main aim of this document appeared to be to justify the exploitation of our green spaces as assets; for either inappropriate income generation, either by ‘repurposing’ for commercial purposes, or even disposal for building developments. 
  • Our strong opposition to any suggestion of installing turbines or solar cells on Martins Hill, a recognised site of biodiversity.
  • No realistic measurements of success seem to be provided in this document.

To read our full submission PLEASE USE THIS LINK

Councillor Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for the Environment, has released a statement stating that they “……were not about to sell any park and that we adore our green spaces and environment.” However our previous experience is that the council has been only too willing to sell off parts of public parks for commercial development; e.g. parts of Queens Gardens, part of Bromley Palace Park.

The council have advised that they have received some 800 submissions and that  “The final analysis alongside an updated Open Space Strategy will be discussed at a future meeting of the Environment PDS Committee before the long-term strategy is adopted.” Our Friends group shall be following this ongoing process very actively.

Green Flag award

People enjoying Queens Gardens in happier times

For a third year running Queens Gardens has been awarded a prestigious Green Flag award. This reflects the continuing very high standard of this much valued public park, achieved as a result of the maintenance of this space by the parks contractor idVerde. This has been achieved despite the furloughing of many staff members during the height of the coronavirus lockdown. Seven other public green spaces across the borough also gained awards.

Queens Gardens is an important public green space located between The Glades shopping centre and Kentish Way. It therefore provides a welcome restful oasis from the much busier places adjacent. This is especially true in the current pandemic. You can find out more about this park HERE

The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.


Queens Garden looking great

This flower bed in Queens Garden, previously the “Darwin Bed”, is looking very good at the moment. It includes various plants, including several attractive grasses, from around the world. This was replanted, by idVerde staff, a couple of years ago to replace the earlier flower scheme which had been part of Bromley council’s iff-fated application for World Heritage status for the Downe area associated with Charles Darwin.

With the other flower beds in the garden currently still awaiting the summer bedding to be planted, this is the main flower display in this park. We hope soon see their contributions to the beauty of this well loved space.

Perhaps with the gradual easing of coronavirus restrictions it will not be too long before the customers of Cafe Giardino will be able to gaze down upon this attractive scene. However in the meantime we can all enjoy this, and the rest of this garden’s attractions, from ground level.


Horse Chestnuts, Martins Hill

It is great to see the trees back in full leaf, as nature carries on regardless. One of the earliest such trees is the Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). They are now in full blossom. It pays to look closely at its delicate colours.

Horse Chesnut in blossom

Most famous for their seeds, much used in the past by small boys to play the game of “conkers ”.

Other uses of the conkers include horse medicines, as additives in shampoos, and as a starch substitute. Chemicals extracted from conkers can be used to treat strains and bruises. There’s hearsay that if you place conkers around your house it will keep spiders away, but there’s no scientific proof that this is the case.

The Victorians wrote recipes for making conker flour. The seeds were shelled, ground and then leached to remove bitter flavours. It’s not a common practise these days and if consumed in excessive quantities conkers are mildly poisonous. (Woodland Trust)

Feeding the Birds

Kari feeding the birds, Church House Gardens

Every morning, soon as the gates are opened, our committee member Kari visits Church House Gardens to feed the birds. She always gives them suitable healthy food such as grain and other seeds, rather than unhealthy bits of bread that many people unfortunately do. She has become very well known to these inhabitants, both large and small. In these difficult times it is great that people are still thinking about our non-human “park users”.