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.
Councillor Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for the Environment, has released a statement stating that they “……were notabout 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.
With the passing of the old year, and the start of another it seemed appropriate to celebrate New Years Day with a walk around all seven of our town centre parks. A hardy few turned up, despite the gloomy weather, to work off any results of the Christmas festivities and to enjoy the open spaces of our parks. On our walk we encountered only a few other park users, either walking their dogs or jogging. Otherwise we had the parks to ourselves. Some overflowing waste bins, and remains of spent fireworks on Martins Hill provided evidence of previous celebrations.
After walking through Church House Gardens we passed by the Mill Pond and the Ravensbourne feeding it, now back to its usual flow of water, a couple of visiting cormorants were sighted as well as two resident Egyptian geese who landed in nearby lake. Also spotted were a large number of golf balls isolated on the now bare mud bank. Occasionally passing members of the public have thought of these as small ‘eggs’! These have in fact floated downstream, probably from a local golf club or driving range.
After visiting several other parks, and finding them in ‘good order’, we finally arrived at Bromley Palace Park (aka Civic Centre Grounds) where we initially had a setback when we discovered that the gates at the Rafford Way entrance were locked.
Undeterred by this we instead managed to gain access to the park via the main entrance, where the automatic doors opened as usual. Needless to say we had the site to ourselves. We visited the listed features including the Ice House and the Pulhamite Cascade which we are campaigning to be restored. We duly took a photo, in front of the listed former Palace building, to celebrate our visit.
We normally end our park walks with refreshments in the on site canteen. But as it was inevitably closed we decided to call it a day and make our ways home, wondering what opportunities and challenges our Friends group would encounter in 2020.
As part of #NationalTreeWeek volunteers recently attended a @BromleyGreenGym event in College Green #Bromley, to plant thirty native tree saplings, as well as a couple of fruit trees. It was sunny and dry, and so with their help all scheduled tasks to were duly completed.
Also volunteers prepared the ground for a new improved willow dome, which will be completed in the next few weeks.
Afterwards the volunteers were able to celebrate all their efforts over a hot drink and biscuits. Everybody mentioned what a good time they had.
The saplings were provided by Mayor of London, and the fruit trees were bought by Bromley Green Gym themselves.
Bromley Green Gym, who help maintain this park, run sessions in College Green, College Road BR1 1PA – every Friday 11am-2pm and welcome anybody to turn up and take part.