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.
The item relating to the proposed sale of the land on the Civic Centre, formerly council offices and now called officially “the Y buildings”, was deferred from discussion at yesterday’s Executive Committee meeting. While no reasons were given, it is suspected that this was due to the land on which these buildings are located being still registered as Urban Open Space, and as such cannot be used for housing. A short reprieve perhaps, but expect the council seeking to de-register this land in the coming weeks. I understand that this would include a period of public consultation. So we will continue to campaign on this along with Bromley Civic Society. This is part of the plan to sell off much of the Civic Centre site, including the historic former Bishop’s Palace, currently housing the Mayor’s Parlour. Read more>
A Public Notice was recently published in the News Shopper in which Bromley council has announced its proposed sale of part of the grounds of the Bromley Palace Park (aka Civic Centre) for development. This despite there being no planning application, or indeed any details of what would be built, so we the public are therefore a unable to judge whether this sale is justifiable. This ‘back door’ sale is very similar to the earlier attempt to sell off park of Library Gardens for the Churchill Quarter development. In this latter case campaigning pressure made the council withdraw their public notice of sale – at least for now. It seems that the council have not learnt!
So our Friends group have sent in a letter of objection, copied to the Bromley Town ward councillors. The palace site contains several Grade 2 listed features and indeed one of them, a Folly, is within the land to be sold off to private developers! This area is a highly valued public green space of great importance to both our group and the wider Bromley public. How the council deal with it should properly reflect this. We hope that members of the public will support us in this.
The Grade 2 listed Ice House in Bromley Palace Park (aka Civic Centre) has had to be partly fenced off to combat repeated damage by vandals. As heritage fencing could not be found it was necessary to use a modern design instead. The sympathetic repair of the roof and buttresses remains to be carried out. Heritage England have identified this and some other listed garden features as at risk.
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.