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Friday 24 November 2006 3.56pm
wow - for people intersted in a park there is a lot of bitter folk in here - by the way for conspiracy fans i'm not fred, jon, sidhue or even sarah!
Friday 24 November 2006 5.35pm
loafer wrote:
I just hope that we can have a civilised AGM on Monday, and that the democratically elected committee - whoever it may be - will then be free to decide, in consultation with park users, how to approach the many issues involved.
The meeting is being chaired by Peter Truesdale (former LibDem leader of Lambeth Council) who I know is a very fair and hardworking man. If everyone follows his guidance, we may at least reach the point of being able to move forward, rather than going round in circles.

Regards,

Loafer

I know I'm quoting myself, but I do wish everyone would just stop arguing, making personal points (on both sides) and be constructive.

Loafer (seriously regretting offering to get involved in what appears to be a vipers pit)
Friday 24 November 2006 8.37pm
I have been Secretary of the Friends of Archbishops Park since June 2004. I live on the edge of the Park and use it most days. Like Loafer, I consider that we are extremely fortunate to have Cllr Peter Truesdale chairing the AGM and I am sure he will be treated by those attending the meeting with the respect he deserves. As Secretary of FoAP I have been involved in organising the AGM, supported amongst others by Cllr Peter Truesdale and other committee members. We have worked together, going to great lengths, to ensure that the committee election process is both democratic and fair, and that as many people as possible interested in the Park are encouraged to become involved if they wish.

On a personal note I would just add, it has been a privilege working alongside Helen Lees, who was elected as the groups Chair in June 2005. Helen is honest and straightforward;she has worked tirelessly- supported by a team of 10 other local committee members- to make sure that improvements to the Park actually happen, keenly consulting with park users on the way and successfully engaging the wider community. Whoever is the newly elected Chair/committee I hope this will continue.
Sunday 26 November 2006 12.05am
Wow, I post with some trepidation. I have always used this site to let people know what was going on. It has been a long haul.

I agree with many people. It is good at last to see a more active debate. My view of the gravel pit is personal, though probably not unique. And so on. Nothing in Lambeth happens overnight, believe me. Improvements going into the park now are based on hard work by a number of people. Including me, but also including Helen lees. I also agree that the last AGM was awful. But have you ever heard of a public meeting when they locked the doors to prevcent people from entering!

Anyone new to the wonderful world of Waterloo may wonder what is going on. I am not the first to suffer tough treatment and will not be the last, though some of the stuff that has gone on is really quite unacceptable.

Why is it all happening. We speculate. The wonderful Millie who used to chair the China Walk Tenants Association used to tell me not to worry. When things get nasty it meant you were winning.

But winning what. Being Chair of the Friends group is hard work and a pretty thanksless task, as I am sure Helen Lees is discovering.

I know what I am fighting for. For a development to the north of the park that protects the setting of the park. As the conservation area policy requires. I agree with Lottie. I will be very relived when plans are agreed, and I can disappear back where I came from. The current plans are not good enough. This is why the planning application was rejected.

I am no tree expert, but noone I have asked - and a year ago I deliberately went to a seminar on managing mature trees so I could collar various experts at lunch - believes trees this age will survive being absolutely adjascent to a large building (Minimum British Standards) with south facing windows, or the subsequent residents lobby calling for sunlight and views of the park.

Founders Place is the BIG issue for the Friends. I like others have no idea why the keen interest in a local community group, why so many members of the original Committee were asked to stand down, why I am apparently so awful, and why others have been shouted at and abused. (However I heard about one incident which involved our very lovely Mr Hatts from several people.)

All I really want is for the Friends group to say where they stand on Founders Place. It is not enough for Helen Lees, with all due respect, to announce in a newsletter that she attended one of the three planning meetings. The groups ppurpose is to preserve and protect the park.

I and others are concerned about the LONG-TERM sustainability of the trees. We need expert advice. So far all the advice is coming form the developers themselves. Two issues. What will be the effect of the massive change in micro-climate on elderly trees. And what lightlevels will the flats have. (I seem to remember that the developers confirming that they were not partularly good.)

The Friends should have money in the bank account. (I remember the fundraising.) I woudl like to see Helen Lees and the Fred quadruplets (forum in joke!) confirm that they are determined to protect the setting of the park. And that they will agree to funding the group of us who have been working on the planning application to get independent evidence on the impact of the development on the trees and therefore the park.

(This group was formed after a public meeting and includes people on the current committee and some who are standing.)

Agiain a long post, but short question.

What is Helen Lees', as Chair of the Friends group, position on the current Founders Place plans, and what action does she plan to take.
Jac
Sunday 26 November 2006 7.03pm
I have just recieved a PM from sarah saying that she thought an earlier post of mine was implying that I had heard the nastiness was down to her. I have reread the post and I dont think that I say that, however incase anyone else reads it in the same way can I make it quite clear I was not saying that the nastiness is any way down to her, nor that others have said that. I was simply trying to say that whether you agree with her views or not and I some of my friends (both on and off the forum) who do and some who dont. She cares passionately about the park and must be able to contribute to any thread on the topic.
Sunday 26 November 2006 7.50pm
I hope that there continue to be a vigorous debate about the future of Archbishop's Park.

In particular, I hope that everyone with a contribution to make, either on this forum or in real life, is completely open about their affiliations to local employers, landowners, and voluntary groups participating in the regeneration of Waterloo and Kennington.

Although I do not share all of Sarah's views - in fact we disagree quite fundamentally on whether the former school building should remain - she has been right in most of her intuitions about the way that successive Lambeth Officers and other interested parties have treated the park as a "means to an end" in meeting their own objectives.

My experiences in regeneration and lottery projects elsewehere tells me that as soon as there is a prosoect of substantial Section 106 (planning gain) or other funding streams coming into an area, then one should always challenge every organisation, however worthy its objectives, as they seek to get a slice of the money to sustain their own initiatives, or keep their own workers in jobs.
Sunday 26 November 2006 7.59pm
I went on a walkabout of the park this afternoon for the first time since late spring, and noticed the following:

- The southern gate from Lambeth Road still has the summer opening hours posted

- It seems that the lighting in the park isn't coming on while the park is still open to the public, but well after dusk. Has this been a problem for some time? What hours ARE the lights working?

- The plantings in the new "modern" garden borders in the south west corner are mostly establishing themselves well despite the drought.

- However, leaving aside the aesthetics for a while*, I have some serious questions about the practicalities of the design of the more exposed hard landscaped area of gravel with the gabion wall (what Sarah called the "gravel pit" in an earlier post), and which I think Groundwork Southwark & Lambeth intended to be an environmental education area.

(a) Will the post and wire fencing ever be removed? Are the Parks Department willing to live with the risks of people tripping over the edge. My risk appetite would allow it, but will a litigation-wary local authority allow it?

(b) The swathes of low planting between the "fingers" of gravel are being trampled over. Is this space the victim of overuse by toddlers, or is this bit just a victim of the drought and in need of replanting)? Whether the original plant species or something more robust is decided on, will it be replanted next spring - and if so from what budget?

(c) the gabion wall seems to have filled up with half the fallen leaves from the park - is there a regime to clear them away?

(*I remain puzzled by its curious resemblance to Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC)
Sunday 26 November 2006 8.27pm
And finally:

Retreating into the library in the south wing of Rabbie Towers, I found my copy of Lambeth's Open Spaces - An historical account by Marie PG Draper, 1979, Lambeth Amenity Services ISBN 090520803X

Transcribing, hopefully with not too many typos after a glass or two of Merlot:
Marie P G Draper wrote:
In 1869 Archbishop Campbell Tait was appointed Archbishop. This broad minded and liberal prelate concerned himself in many ways with bettering the lives of the poor and underprivileged and one of the things he did was to open the grounds of Lambeth Palace. He instituted annual tickets of admission to local poor families thus enabling "scores of pale children" to play often in the fresh air. The burses of St Thomas's Hospital, which had been removed to the Embankment site in 1869-1871, were admitted to the grounds at all times and even to the private garden. The part of the grounds set aside for the children to play in became known as Lambeth Palace Field and special arrangements were made for the games of local cricket and football clubs. It was also made available for school "treats" andn the parade inspections of the local volunteer corps. The most publicised event for which the field was used occurred in 1880, when 24,000 children assembled to celebrate the centenary of the Sunday Schools' foundation and offered the Prince and Princess of Wales a lusty rendering of Onward Christian Soldiers.

When Archbishop Tait died in 1882 Lambeth Palace Field had become so much an adjunct to local life that broad hints were given to his successor, Edward White Benson, to continue Tait's generosity and even to extend the faciliites to a wider public, and the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association addressed a memorial to Mr. Gladstone to use his influence on this behalf.

Although Archbishop Benson continued to permit the field to be used as formerly, it was left to Archbishop Frederick Temple to make a more permanent and unrestricted access. This was in 1900 when the Parks Commitee of the London County Council suggested that it should lay out the field as a public park and manage it on the lines of other parks in it custody. The Archbishop agreed, but reserved the ownership of the park to himself and his successors in officeand made conditions to secure the privacy of the rest of the Palace grounds as, for example, in the matter of band performances. He also gave up the kitchen garden of the palace to be laid out as a children's playground, provided that males "apparently above the age of ten years" were excluded. Another enclosure, originally grassed, was set aside for games, preference being requested for clubds from the most densely populated districts of South London within a mile of the Palace. In the event cricket had to be abandoned when a boy lost the sight of an eye as a result of being hit by a flying ball.

The park was officially opened on 24th October 1901 by the chairman of the council A M Torrance MP; the Archbishop offered it for "the use and enjoyment of the People of London" and the local volunteer corps, the 4th Battallion of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment, provided a special band performance.

Most of the games' area and the children's playground are situated at the nortern end of the park, furthest away from the Palace. The rest of the park is perhaps a little old-fashioned but there is considerable variety in the trees (lime, ailanthus, catalpa, ash and a row of fine old planes on the eastern boundary). Two features which have disappeared from the original layout are a pond in the south-west corner which was spanned by a rustic bridge and a red granite drinking fountain given in 1901 to the memory of Anne du Bois. There are three entrances: one from Lambeth Road which was made out of part of Lambeth Rectory garden, one in Carlisle Lane in land leased to the Council by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for 99 years from 1900 and one which used to open out of Paris Street but now stands in the re-aligned Lambeth Palace Road.

The Archbishops of Canterbury still own Archbishop's Park but the London County Council began to acquire land in 1955 for its extension at the north end, The site is now almost cleared. In 1957 some land between the park and the realigned Lambeth Palace Road was designated as public open space in compensation for the loss of Stangate Street Triangle, which was taken over by the County Council in 1940 and destroyed recently for road widening at the juntion of Westminster Bridge Road and Lambeth Palace Road. The new open space is now paved and decorated with large containers of shrubs and seasonal bedding plants; where it abuts on the park boundary fence there is a flowering shrub border. Since 1965 the park has been in the custody of the Greater London Council as successor to the London County Council.

My recollection is that Lambeth sold off much of the land accumulated by the LCC during a 1980s budget crisis. However, I think that Lambeth do still own a site on the east end of Royal Street (is the same site that was the last prefab in north Lambeth until the mid 1990s?). This remained as a strangely undeveloped plot in St Thomas' Special Trustees plans for Founders Place, and I would love to know wheher the council have plans for a development of their own on the site.
Sunday 26 November 2006 11.59pm
For those of you who have neither the time nor inclination to read Sarah2's recent posts on the subject of Archbishop's Park (on this thread & the related one re the AGM) I provide a summary:

* Within months the Plane trees on the north of Archbishop's Park will be dead (killed by sunlight reflecting off the new Founders Place development).

* 1m will be spent on building a large floodlit football pitch for Shell staff in the middle of the Park.

* The above will be approved by Helen Lees (FoAP chair) and those money grabbing companies hiding behind SBEG, WPB, WCRT, CRP & WCDG.

* In order to stop this destruction of the Park you must vote for Sarah2 at Monday's AGM.

* Alas, its too late, proxy votes, the AGM venue and other matters intended to enable the wrong sort of people to vote (ie those who use the park but who may not vote for Sarah2) have conspired to make this a lost cause.

* The end of the Park is nigh.

Faced with this appalling vista I revisited the postings that Helen Lees (chair) and Kate Payne (secretary) had recently put on this thread. Their messages told a completely different story but I'm beginning to wonder if the measured and concise way in which they presented their case explains why things have improved in the Park recently.

PS Those without a sense of humour need not reply.
Monday 27 November 2006 9.11am
Fred,

I dont know if you meant me. If I can assure you that I would not have survived the past 30 months without a sense of humour. I am glad that the debate is now out in the open. And therefore grateful for your posts. A public forum may not be the best way, but at least it is communication and a chance to thrash out the issues.

We are getting there but not quite. My concerns are:

1. I dont think the trees will sustainable in the long term. They are elderly and will be stressed by a significant change in microclimate. Plus the new residents will naturally campaign for decent light levels and view. I may be wrong, which is why I am looking for an independent tree expert.

2. At one of the planning meetings I recall someone from Lambeth Planners saying that the 600,000 odd of the S106 would be used for a new football pitch and a new entrance to Lambeth Palace Raod. The rest of the 1 million would not be needed. This struck me as bizarre so I am happy to be corrected by someone with a better memory.

In terms of Shell, my point is that SBEG only expanded their boundaries in about 1999 to Lambeth Road, I understand to include some more deprived estates so that they would tick the boxes on their 19 million bid for regeneration money. So their members are some way away from the park, thus their employees are more likely to use the park for sports activities than for a lunchtime stroll. (I dont know if the Hospital have since joined.) Hence a different need than local residents, almost all of whom are without gardens and value the green. Shell do seem to be taking an interest in the park, including donating some benches so that people (Medic?) could sit and admire the gravel pit. Was I alone in then seeing the irony of the Russians complaining about Shell's environmental record.

3. My understanding is that the Park current steering group is made up of SBEG, the Chair of the Friends, Lambeth, Groundwork Southwark, SAZ adn WCDG. They can obviously make a decision to consult further before making any decisions, or to simply go ahead. My understanding is that there was no public consultation on digging up the memorial rose bed and replacing it with gravel. At the time Lambeth promised to hold a wider meeting to include those (a long petition and about 50 people turning up on the day) who were unhappy. According to Lambeth this meeting apparently happened but virtually no one turned up. Presumably because no one was told about it. (I wasnt.) I did phone the Lambeth number given on the posters to ask about floodlit football pitch rumours, which were upsetting residents of Peabody's York House, but the officer said he was only allowed to dicuss future plans with the Chair of the Friends. All consultation with residents was being routed through her.

4. No one needs to vote for me. What I want is a level playing field so park users can have the Chair they want. When Chair I always said I was not so attached to the power and the glory that I was unwilling to give up at the first opportunity. I agreed about 18 months ago that if Helen wanted to be Chair she could, and that I would continue with the play and cafe projects as I was up to speed and felt they would really deliver. This arrangement was confirmed at the AGM 18 months ago.

Despite the feasibility being positive and a cafe providing about the only means of providing safe toilets in the park, the charity involved tells me that Lambeth dropped the project because the Friends confirmed that local people did not want a cafe. The play project has delivered though my role was passed to WCDG at a fairly late stage. They were paid, from public funds, for a role I and others had been doing on a voluntary basis.

I have not been invited to a Committee meeting since Helen took over as Chair. Instead I was invited to a very odd meeting, where a local estate agent, who is on the Committee, tore into me and told me what a dreadful person I was. I had never met him before!

5. There are a lot of new members out there living some distance from the Park. The meeting is being held in the same building as WCDG some distance from Kennington and the estates on which many local park users live.

After the fiasco in June, a local school teacher and a local GP, one who was already on the Committee and the other who had been invited to join, proposed they set up a working group to ensure that the next AGM, for the benefit of the group, should be run in an open and transparent way. A level playing field was all that anyone wanted. There are some very big issues and about land and money, and so it was important that there was a proper independent voice speaking on behalf of park users. I am told that the Chair of the Friends failed to reply to this proposal. I hope I am not breaking confidence when I say that the school teacher felt that at a Committee meeting two weeks ago (perhaps the first since June) not only was he not thanked for his efforts, but that he was shouted at.

I have also read the posts from Helen Lees and Kate Payne. I have no argument with their measured tone. But I and others cannot work out where they stand on the Founders Place Development. Are they simply satisfied that the trees are safe for the long term. Or do they feel that the development will provide so much additional benefit to park users, that it is worth losing the green perimeter. The planning process involved two site visits and three meetings. Helen Lees attended the second planning meeting and, despite representing the Friends group, did not speak. I genuinely don't know where she stands.

That is the question. Given an appeal was lodged at the same time as the AGM was announced, an answer would be useful.
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