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.
Nelson Square 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....
Well said, it always seems as if the needs and views of us residents who actually live in the Square are never taken into account. My concern is that the gardens will just be accessible to those who want to play football and sod the rest of us!
Well it was after midnight when the councillors on the planning committee B decided that the plans could be passed with nine considerations... height of surrounding fence, planting, dog bins and signs, disabled access into the park..etc. I seem to remember there is a clear rule not to pass plans except with one or two points but this is Southwark Council making up the rules as they go along.
There were so many inaccuracies banded around between the officials and the developers that I wondered if it was the same Square I have lived in for more than 20 years. The plans say it is not possible to make the entrances disabled compliant but the planning officer says they can. The exterior wall is going to be reduced say the plans. No, it can be retained and painted black. Or is that white... who knows. And a football pitch with three high sides because "no one likes to feel caged in" - ignoring that the rest of us can get pelted with a football while we are on the 4th side.
I firmly claimed a lack of proper consultation and the planners agreed that they had not sent out final letters and a mere 6 notices had been put up on A4 paper with the details illegible. Oh and residents in social media housing had to respond by filing a report on the website.
And we ended up with the plans passed with another paper exercise and no further proper consultation.
The reason the meeting went on from 7pm till after midnight with only three items discussed was exactly that. It was pitiful to see them in a public meeting like that last night and a real turnoff for the voting public in my opinion.
Thanks for letting us know James. The tangled web is getting ever stranger. When the plans were passed for the main Gardens there were various consultations which had to take place. So far we have had one meeting and despite Adele Morris asking what is happening we have heard no more. If this is consultation then it is a sad day for Southwark.
This is despite the fact that planning was passed with a demand on officials to address all the nine points. They have held one meeting with Coun Adele Morris and refused a second request for another meeting to resolve any outstanding issues. Rebecca Towers though I notice has now been promoted.
I despair of the "new" Southwark Council and its new style "consultation" as it clearly means nothing.