I could be wrong but I think that if Lambeth have asked you to comment on an application on behalf of Friends of Archbishop's Park, then they are expecting you to give an opinion on what effect a new development will have on the park and what could be improved in the park to the benefit of both the development and the park. This is because your group's title 'Friends of .... ' implies that those in the group are from a wide community who are interested enough in the park to support it and protect it, - (rather than a community group formed from local residents concerned with issues of the environment in which they live).
So, for maximum effect, perhaps you concentrate on a few specific issues which directly affect the park, on which you will be held to be knowledgable. Better seating and better planting and care of the lawns would be mutually beneficial, though I would add a new north entrance from the road, the present one seems mean and uninviting, plus better hard and soft landscaping connecting the development with the park. If I were the developer I would be concentrating my efforts on how to strengthen and improve pedestrian links with the South Bank and Waterloo Station - (which would be a section 106 agreement) a reminder to look at the park to the west would be useful
That is not to say you cannot point out other issues while writing as a local resident
FofAP as the name implies tries hard to provide a voice for all park users, and not be simply a pressure group to push the views of middle-class residents. Given the location right opposite a new childrens hospital, near several office blocks, and on the tourist route to the War museum there are going to be diverse users groups whose needs need to be understood and balanced if any investment is to be a success. If we don't meet the needs of say, office workers or teenagers, they are liable to appropriate something else. (Like with the men in their underpants who dominate the designated seating area on a sunny day leaving other office workers to sit on children's play equipment.)
We have spent £35,000 on a management plan which has done its best to do precisely that (including proposals for the Carlisle Lane entrance) and back up with exidence.
So in terms of comments - on behalf of 'the community' can I express concern about the park to cope with increased demand without further investment and sign-post to our management plan. Plus things like safe pedestrian routes for potential workers from the high-unemployment estates to the south?
Me as a resident doesn't care. We own our house. By and large all the tidying up of the area is good for its value. But it is shocking, as in Ali's thread, how few facilities there are for children and young people, especially those on low incomes. If we are, post-development, to be a cohesive community, we cannot allow developers to build and then take their money and run. They must be asked to invest in facilities as well.
Have just looked at the planning application drawings for the building to replace York House (Asked at the counter in the Library in Lower Marsh).
The proposed building isn't ugly per se, but it is certainly striking and much bigger than what's there at the moment (tatty 60s block + Florence Nightingale pub). It has a fairly conventional main block, which would be about 1 storey taller than the 60s Becket House next door, but the top floor is a bizarre pod that would float on the top and looks like nothing so much as a flying saucer from a 1950s B movie.
I'm amazed that there haven't been more pictures of it so far, given that it would be visible from Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge.
Equally interestingly, the voluminous documents with the application give a first hint of what could be built immediately to the south as part of the "Founders Place" development - mostly residential with some new nurses acccommodation - that would replace the two 1960s blocks of flats (Stangate and Canterbury House) and also most of the south side of Royal Street.
Sarah - have the Founders Place developers discussed these plans
with the Friends? Their plans appear to create a wall of building immediately north of Archbishops Park. There would also be a large tower - height not yet clear - replacing Stangate.
The two developers are co-ordinating their "landscaping strategies" - which seem to involve no grass at all costs.
As a first stage, the current developers plan to remove the area of grass outside Becket House and shift the sculpture south to the corner with Upper Marsh. [This would allow them to potentially replace Becket House in a few years with a building roughly the same height as the current 70s building, but twice as deep.]
More positively, it seems that there may be planning gain monies from the development to relight, repave and generally improve Upper Marsh going under the tracks - which could provide a better link between St Thomas's/Archbishops Park and Lower Marsh market.
I got hold of half the environmental assesment for the York House development. (Someone I was seeing in Lambeth happened to have it on his desk and sort of agreed that asking residents/ community groups to pay £85.00 in order that they could respond intelligently to planning proposals in their area was a bit steep.) As you say they are big buildings and more dense than before. And they with the Founders Place Development will change the character of the area south of the Westminster Bridge roundabout between the railway and the river. And therefore the park, including demands on it, views from it and access to it. This is not all baqd, but we do need balance.
The York House developers have not spoken to me, though in my response to Lambeth on behalf of the 'Friends of Archbishops Park' I said I would be happy to meet them. We did have contact with the Founders Place Developers - the Hospital Foundation seem to understand that their is an overlap of objectives beween a campaign for a park which should bring public health gains and work on the provision of hospital facilities, though the Developer, Taylor Woodrow, seems to treat community consultation as a tactical battle in an on-going guerrilla war. Taylor Woodrow have now dropped out (don't know why) so I think Founders Place plans are on hold. The Foundation have suggested meeting which is good as it would be nice to get our plans built in from the start.
The process is imperfect. Lambeth seem keen that someone (me, it seems) submits a community viewpoint (eg don't forget the public realm) so they can Balance that against the developer lobbying. But there is little or no help. (Do WCGD ever answer their phone - though more kindly they are very busy on Jubilee Gardens.) The developer view is often short term. They want to maximise their profit and get out. Yet in the longer term owners, tenants, residents and workers in the buildings would probably welcome the sorts of improvements we are seeking for the park.
And whilst developers can pay to employ Montague Evans, people like me have to find the time and money ourselves. When our group went to the local Regeneration Fund for 'capacity help' we were turned down on the grounds that it is important that capacity is found within the community and groups like ours should not come to rely on external help. Worth remembering that the SRB is delivered by a pressure group made up of the 17 big landowners in the area - we are even having problems even accessing money for kids football, and I hear that this group even tried to veto money granted to us and Lambeth by Cross River Partnership to engage Groundwork Southwark to carry our management plan forward. It is all very odd.
This leads to bizarre things like us having to hire the hall and arrange the meeting where Taylor Woodrow presented their plans for Founders Place (they previously spoke to the South Bank Forum and WCGD which are fora limited to residents north of Lambeth Road) and me posting their plans to our mailing list and having to foot the bill for excess postage myself.
I did promise Mrs I that I would try and restrain my ranting. She worries that I might raise Mr Is blood pressure. But I feel stuck. If I don't make the effort to inform and organise we will get an area that suits the short term interests of developers and noone else, whether established or new to the area, or even our local authority. Getting a lease was important but a run down park with worn out facilities, over shadowed by glossy new buildings, is not what we want and not the reason why the Church Commisisoners agree to extend the lease by 40 years.
I don't know if any of the clever people out are willing to help on this one. I may also ask for help with other pressing things like organising our easter egg hunt, or filling in funding applications for our football. A lot of people doing small amounts is the trick and I have already leaned quite heavily on a relatively small group of my friends.
The kind things people like Jan and Jai have said also helps. From the start our informal aim has been to get a sandpit and a paddling pool. The lack of provison for kids is astonishing. We should be able to do it, it is worth doing and we will do it. But someone buying me a pint of cider helps the process.
Dare I say that someone in Lambeth confided that Taylor Woodrow opened S106 negotiations for the Founders Place development by offering a park bench.......
[If you're looking for the flying saucer reference - go up two posts!]
Forgot to add that before visiting the library I had strolled through Archbishops Park and came out next to Royal Street. The c1900 brick building hidden behind the advertising hoardings (opposite St Thomas's A&E)looks as though it has been completely refurbished inside and out.
Does anyone know whether it belongs to the Buddhist centre, the Hospital or someone else?
At one stage it looked as if the Buddhists had it and were planning to turn it into a cafe. Indeed three years ago someone from the hospital trust muttered something about Lambeth letting the Buddhists have it without letting them have a chance. But the Buddhists are apparently now being evicted from the old CofE school site, which I assume belongs to the church, so don't know.
I like the Buddhists though. People can simply pop in and have a cup of tea. And curiously lots do. It is very calm.
A lot of the land ownership around there is complicated as much belonged to the GLC and there is competition between Lambeth and the Hospital about who is the rightful sucessor.
Don't know about flying saucers. Plenty of hot air balloons.
And just read my previous post - sorry it is so long.
curioser and curioser - the Founders Place development sketched in on the plans for landscaping around Becket House included no change to building on the western part of the site occupied by the buddhists, but a new vehicle access from Royal Street, while the eastern end (for old lags of the area: where the prefabs used to be - ) was included as part of their development.
Needless to say it included no proposals for improved landscaping of the Archbishops Park extension.
I also wondered if the hoardings:
(i) have planning consent for their current site
(ii) might be trespassing on Lambeth property
I forgot to ask - does anyone know who still drinks in the Florence Nightingale - is it just St Thomas's staff or does it serve some of the estates on "the other side of the tracks"?
There has been a steady disappearance of real pubs in the area e.g. transformation of the Spanish Patriot into the Ruby Lounge and (less controversially?) the arrival of "Walrus Social" where the Red Lion was.
The proposed new development shows a tiny ground floor A3 use next to the prestige offices' entrance - just large enough for another bloody coffee shop!
I know times have changed since the medical staff of most London teaching hospitals used to indulge regularly in a couple of lunchtime pints, but is it really right that all of the local boozers should vanish?