Wednesday 1 July 2015 11.54am
Tonight at Committee Room B the latest "refurbishment" of Nelson Square
Gardens will come to planning. This is what I will be saying tonight in apposing the plans.
Gardens has been in existence for more than 200 years and in corporate council ownership for more than 100 years - well before Southwark Council
was in existance.
Principally people have been very happy with the Park giving a green space with good seating and plenty of bio diversity with plants and trees foraging space for birds, bees and squirrels.
However there were a few things we would have liked improving.
1. Applegarth House wanted the Plane trees seriously trimmed because of low light.
2. The Park is not disabled compliant because of uneven paving and heavy metal gates. This makes it hard for pushchairs and wheelchairs but also for people who have poor visual or balance issues.
3. Additional seating to stop people sitting on the central wall (which also encourages them to sit on housing walls) in Rowland Hill House at a cost to its residents. Bad behaviour!
4. An enclosed football pitch to allow players to vent the ball rather than passing dogwalkers, kiddies and residents walking through with the shopping
So what did we get at the consultation meetings some interesting chatter and then these plans which show two main issues have been added without resolving any of the improvements we asked for.
1. It is totally inappropriate to reduce the height of the perimeter wall and railings. This leaves children and dogs at serious risk of being hit by moving traffic.
2. Taking away the second flower bed to put more lawn in will become a dog toilet and one extra chair in the garden will not improve that situation.
3. It is not DDA compliant because the plans point out that the access points are not currently funded. The paths are bonded gravel which can easily deteroriate with increased footfall because there is one path now rather than four..
4. The raised bed in the central area has always delineated the quiet part of the small park from the children.s play area. Take this away and you will have more angry words for example how can people sit quietly with a disabled person in a wheelchair when the kids decide to play cricket on the now "extended lawn".
5. Half the planters are gone and no picnic benches for the sandwich lunchers in the grassed area.
6. Finally there is absolutely no recognition of the history of the Square in any of these plans. Faraday is paraded at the Elephant and Castle but no mention that our former residents included social campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft, former editor of the London Times Thomas Barnes, or the Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Let alone the first women's university in Britain at Blackfriars Settlement
or Lord Halifax who handed over the land. Oh did I mention Charles Dickens and the Dog and Pot....
But I just live here so what do I know.