Campaigners rallying against development
Last week over 150,000 people have taken part in a consultation, organised by campaigning group 38 Degrees, on how we use our parks – and why we love them – and over 260,000 have signed a petition calling for our parks to be protected.
In the next few weeks the committee of MPs looking into the problems facing our parks will read through these responses, and come up with recommendations for what to do next. Thanks to this, they’ll be under no illusion that people across the UK care about our parks and green spaces.
You can see a full copy of the report online.
In addition we have sent a submission directly to the parliamentary committee, outlining our opinions on the importance of our public parks and their benefits. At present local councils do not have a statutory obligation to provide them! A situation a national campaign is endeavouring to change.
Derelict site of former Maze.
Where there used to be a pleasant Maze now stands an empty waste! The Maze was sacrificed so that easy access could be provided to construct the five new restaurants. Go to our Queens Garden campaign page to learn more about how this happened. Now Bromley council is deciding what to replace this wasteland with. It is proposed that a rustic ch ildren’s playground will be built here. Unfortunately intuBromley, who currently manage the shopping centre, are only willing to contribute £50k towards this, despite them gaining a valuable site for their multi-million pound development.This sadly is not much money for a really exciting playground worthy of this site. Four companies submitted proposals for this site. The best design, of a poor bunch, ŵas preferred by a local panel and it is hoped that the Bromley councillors will make their decision soon, so that this eyesore is no more.
Dickerson’s Copse, Church House Gardens
We have been advised by Bromley council that they will be sending out a document to various commercial interests.
The document says:
“The Council is exploring potential Leisure opportunities at Church House Gardens. Expressions of interest, subject to contract, are invited for Leisure and / or Catering projects. Interested applicants are asked to provide outline proposals.” and “Church House Gardens has been identified as having further potential for complementary leisure activities to enhance the attractiveness of Bromley as a retail and leisure destination”
We had a meeting with a senior manager within the council’s Streetscene &Green Space (i.e. parks) department but, as this policy is being implemented by another part of the council administration we have written to the council Chief Executive further expressing our concerns. In brief these are –
- Although any new leisure facilities may be a public benefit we are not aware of any identified shortfall or deficiency in leisure facilities in CHG here –only an underuse of what we already have
- Commercial exploitation of this park, similar to Queen’s Garden, in order to further increase the general council coffers. Any monies generated will not benefit any parks.
- We question the need for catering since the Gardens are located in the heart of the biggest food outlet centre in the Borough?
- No mention of planning constraints for the site (e.g. Urban Open Space policy, Town Centre Conservation Area). While the council insist that it is up to the tenderers to “find this out” we are suspicious as they have outlined many other stipulations in their document, but not the important planning ones.
We understand that High Elms Country Park has also been chosen as part of this pilot scheme. If deemed successful this may be rolled out in other parks.
We have fought, and lost, a 3 year campaign against the loss of part of Queen’s Garden to commercial exploitation and we therefore fear that Church House Gardens, and some other parks, could go the same way. We await the council’s response.
Tony B dressed as the local rat-catcher & town crier!
Today’s Friends/BCS walk was a tremendous success, with some 60 people turning up! A very pleasant surprise at the numbers, but it was well worth it, with great feedback from all those attending. We visited six of our seven town centre parks explaining their histories, and the continuing importance of these precious public green spaces. In some cases sadly these are under possible threats from nearby developments. Having started outside in Library Gardens (originally ‘Neelgeries’) we ended up in Bromley Palace Park (aka Civic Centre grounds) where the Bishops of Rochester, until 19th century, held court for about eight centuries. We explained how the public need to support our public parks, so that they are there for future generations. As it states in our groups mandate “We aim is to foster an increased sense of community ownership and involvement in the(se) precious green areas”. To find out more about our parks please go to the ‘Our Parks’ page.
Volunteer clearing foliage.
Another couple of working parties were held on Monday 8th and Sunday 14th February. The water level was helpfully low enough for the bolder volunteers to get onto the island and cut back some of the rampant vegetation. Also a very large of golf balls were recovered from the muddier areas! It is hoped that these may be recycled and perhaps some limited funds can be generated. The less bold were able to get on to more accessible areas and remove rubbish and foliage washed there in recent high flows.
We are only too aware that soon we will have to stop work on the island to allow birds to nest.
Cutting back hedge.
On Sunday 4th October Thames21 led the first working party of the autumn. Previously we were constrained by nesting birds. About ten volunteers cleared some undergrowth from paths and other key areas. Also the water level was temporarily lowered to increase water speed and so help to clear some silt around the weir. The next working party will take next month.
St.Balise Well & Lake
Newsshopper has reported that L.B.Bromley plans to sell large parts of their Civic Centre. While aware that this is mentioned in the Bromley Town Area Action Plan (BTAAP) we remain concerned at the implications to the associated public open space Bromley Palace Park, including retaining public access. This is a delightful place with a number of officially listed features. We will continue to campaign to retain this quality park for public use.