Tory-run Bromley Council has drafted a policy which seeks to identify parks and green spaces “for development or disposal”.
Today is the closing date for residents to submit their comments on Bromley’s Open Spaces Strategy.
The Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England say that they are “very concerned” that Bromley is seeking to sell-off public open spaces.
Bromley’s parks include Crystal Palace Park, close to the borough boundary with Croydon. Bromley has frequently given serious consideration to schemes which have included developing parts of Crystal Palace Park for housing and other uses.
“We are very concerned about the draft Open Space Strategy, a central aim of which is to identify green spaces ‘for development or disposal’,” said CPRE London campaigner Alice Roberts.
“We strongly object to the Open Space Strategy’s central aim to build on or dispose of green space and urge that the council does not agree any document with these aims.
“I would usually expect a borough’s Open Space Strategy to discuss how they will meet the needs of a growing population and improve their offer for local residents. But at the outset there is a statement that one of the challenges will be ‘Being brave enough to recognise when open space should be repurposed’ and the stated Strategic Objective 1 is to ‘Identify open spaces that require alteration, investment or reassignment including development or disposal’.”
CPRE London’s position is that “not well-used” open space is not a reason to get rid of green space.
They state that there are references to assessing the quality of space in the document, without any indication of the potential for the improvement of these spaces. CPRE says that where spaces are regarded as poor quality or the spaces are not well used, “this is mainly because no investment has taken place either through benign neglect or deliberately”.
The CPRE says, “This is not a reason to get rid of green space. It could, and almost certainly should, be transformed to provide a useful amenity for local residents.”
CPRE says that Bromley already has less green space than is needed for its population – as shown on Fields in Trust’s map.
“Given the population is set to grow, all efforts should be made to retain green space to ensure the growing population’s needs are served. Any assessment of need should be made with reference Fields in Trust’s Green Space Standards.
“Clearly Bromley Council is, like all boroughs, the custodian of green spaces and we would not expect any borough, Bromley included, to regard its vital green spaces as assets to be disposed of.”
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I can understand giving private companies the option to maintain and upgrade green spaces on behalf of the council but not to sell off green spaces. As housing is becoming denser who knows what the needs of local people for green space will be in the future, so hands off our land greedy developers!
With quality of life being rapidly eroded by ever more building, ever more traffic and ever less parking places there should be a moratorium on using public spaces for anything other than public amenity.
Too many councils of both political persuasions see getting rid of greenery as a cheap option rather than redevelop old brownfield sites that have lain dormant and neglected for years. They couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about the end user – i.e. Joe Public. Especially in Croydon. Parks don’t vote or pay rates – I accept that the public are dirty animals, many holding picnics in the summer and then walking away leaving their crap for someone else to clear up because they’re too lazy and don’t have the common decency to think of others. There were plenty of photographs taken last summer in Lloyd Park, for example. But in the light of this, the council clear up operation should take place late evening after the great unwashed have gone home. Not left to blow across whichever park it has been dumped.
And what’s happening with Croydon Arena? When will the pitch be sorted? The Harriers have been able to hire the track privately but the grass is not so easy as nothing has been done to it since March as far as I am aware. There’s no point in complaining to the local councillors as they were top dogs in the Labour administration.
I cannot envisage private individiual other than the rare super-rich philanthropist millionaire being interested in buying a mundane area of council park and then keeping it open to the publc.
Nor any Ltd company nor PLC.
But I can imagine a number of people and business people who would be very interested in buying land with or without planning permission, but with unwritten “hope value”.
There are many who would try out the planning process by moving on with a mobile home, or build a structure, then, in 10 to 30 years time, claim rights of established use and somehow get planning permission.
Even more who would set up some car-based or building-based business on the land, dump rubbish on it, and neglect it.
Another very real risk is that someone would buy an area of land and then sell it off in “plots” to people who think that the area might be given planning epormission one day, in their or their children’s times. There are a number of such firms who like to buy land in the Home Counties Green Belt close to existing settlements. They divide the land up, mark it with iton stakes, and advertise the plots as a “leisure/ development opportunity”.
Most of the above solutions end up in blighted land, or, in bad development.
In terms of costs to a council, of owning an open space, the main costs will be fencing, keeping out the fly tippers, and tree pruning and felling where trees abut a developed area such as happens with a woodland belt located right next to housing. People in such houses ask for tree pruning to improve their light to gardens and windows–I can understand that entirely.
I can imagine the problem for a council of having numerous such areas which cost a lot to maintain with legal liabilities for trees. Pruning of trees overhanging gardens and houses costs a very significant amount.
It will be interesting to see what pans out in Bromley.
I think that some housing on the East side of Crystal palace park is actually a very good idea, if it follows the designs shown in the recent planning application, and if the money really does get allocated to the park project. The Victorian designers did this very thing at the park.
But in most cases, bits of green space scattered around the less prestigious bits of Bromley will never receive much attention from the great and the good, nor from the suburban tree lover.
New York’s Central Park is going to have a huge lot of very vocal supporters. A scrap of land in a scruffy area of the industrial suburbs of New Jersey will not.
It’s the same over this side of the Pond.
My guess is that in affluent areas of Bromley, maybe resident groups will seek to buy some areas, but would they want to let the public in? I doubt it.
Owning parkland and woods needs money and management, and knowledge of looking after landscape.
Few bodies other than councils have the knowledge.
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