Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lewisham Council - Park land care

I've just visited my publisher's home for a coffee. It is located in a pleasant part of South East London (SE4) and is blessed with a large open park area nearby. The park is called Hilly Fields. He took me for a walk in the park with his dogs. Our peace was disturbed by the noise of large mechanical diggers and graders gouging out the ground in the middle of the level ground used by football players. At weekends the local soccer club uses the area for providing training of around 50-60 children. That soccer club has been active for at least 15 years. During the week a lot of people use the area for casual football playing. The place is a valuable social asset for the crowded urban area. 

So why has the council allowed the football area to be dug up? Well, at the end of the school summer holidays and the real start of the soccer season, they are allowing the construction of a cricket pitch! No doubt to avoid damage to the cricket pitch they'll ban the use of the area by footballers. Football is far more popular than cricket at the site. I wonder who was consulted before the work was allowed to destroy the football area?

My publisher tells me the Council has also given the local girl's school to annex part of the public park land on Hilly Fields for the purposes of building "temporary" classrooms. In fact it is not the school but a limited company who own the school who have been granted permission to move in the bulldozers and take over the public parkland. Good for their profit potential, not so good for the public park land obtained for the whole community over 100 years ago.

It seems to me that Lewisham Council are being rather careless in their management of this public land. Once lost it will never be recovered. There will be some feeble excuse like "We'd really like to restore the land, but unfortunately there is no budget this year.."  The public money was probably wasted on building a cricket pitch, which few people want, over the ground used by the much more popular football.


Note: 13th May 2012
The "temporary" class rooms remain on the the park land with planning "permission" extended to December 2013.  As of today the "Cricket Pitch" is unused, footballer have to play around the area..

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