Council sends in bulldozers to village’s cherished green space

CROYDON COMMENTARY: Contractors working for the council have had the bulldozers in one of the borough’s much-loved, and too often neglected, public parks. Old Coulsdon resident SALLY ANN VOAK shares her concerns

Don’t dig this: Sally Ann Voak in Grange Park

On Monday morning, residents in Old Coulsdon woke to the sound of heavy barriers being erected in their much-loved Grange Park, a precious public green space in our village.

An asphalt pathway, set inside the park’s tree-lined perimeter and near a busy road, is being constructed by civil engineers Loughman.

I was shocked because I could not understand why there had been no open meeting in Old Coulsdon to discuss these works.

I was horrified when I saw the diggers in action.

This treasure of a park in a leafy area is a calm oasis opposite our beautiful St John’s Church. It is used by football clubs, fitness groups, by families for parties and picnics, and by dog walkers.

Grange Park has Centenary Field status, through an initiative led by Fields in Trust, and is supposed to be legally safeguarded in perpetuity against development.

The park is owned by the council but the funding for this daft reduction of an open space has come from a trust via the Friends of Grange Park, and has somehow dropped neatly into the council’s coffers.

Three years ago I, together with a group of residents, tried to halt this plan, then in its early stages, until a proper consultation with could organised.

Off track: the works to dig up a chunk of Grange Park continues

Our worries included danger to kids and disabled people because of the proposed track’s proximity to the road and nearby playground, the reduction of space for football and other games and the possible addition of buildings in the future by the council.

The idea of an open meeting was trashed by the Friends group. When no work was done, we thought they had seen sense. Our residents’ association – which is a separate organisation from the Friends – did not even know that work was to commence in the park this week.

It is all very sad, as well as undemocratic.

The council’s vow to preserve open spaces seems at odds with putting a digger though healthy, lush green grass and pouring 300 tons of asphalt all over it.

Residents fear that the Mayor of Croydon’s vow to use “disposable assets” to help pay of the council’s debts, by selling off such as libraries, might soon include our parks.

  • Sally Ann Voak is a former Fleet Street journalist

Read more: Cash-strapped council to sell part of Grangewood Park
Read more: Only one of Croydon’s 120 parks achieves Green Flag status
Read more: Croydon tops the table for flogging off public assets

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6 Responses to Council sends in bulldozers to village’s cherished green space

  1. A new road? That’ll please the local nonce

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Could the park do with a path? Could it do without one? Should it be concrete asphalt, or wood chippings and adequate drainage for all seasons? Could even artificial grass also be considered?

    Does building a path constitute development? Did it breach its Centenary Park status?

    Who knows and how will the residents ever know when Local bodies and secretiveTrusts fail to communicate, fail to consult, fail to just behave as a decent human being should?
    And there is the rub. Just because you can get away with doing others wrong and have a pathetic council say its perfectly legal does not mean you should.

    Progress and change and different ways will always have alternate views.
    Meaningful and inclusive consultation gives everone an opportunity to voice concerns and ideas some a bit whacky and some that actually end up improving on the original idea. Many previously against a change are brought on board by this effective communication and the community grows and binds better. Some are still against it but they have had their opportunity to voice their thoughts and had them treated with respect and explained why they were not practical or possible.

    Too often in Croydon we have had the opposite. We have had Consultation methodologies foisted on to a populace that has effectively excluded large groups of minority residents. We have had shortened consultation periods very poorly advertised (if at all) or buried on a page hard to reach on a Council website – the Parsons Mead LTN is a prime example of that.

    Developers fail to follow the Building codes especially communication with Neighbours. They can victimise objectors and state they are doing so in public with impunity from both Council and Police, They can ignore planning conditions create havoc and destroy previously well integrated communities all againwith narry a batted eyelid from Councils officers and not a peep from Councillors.

    Cuts are imposed on a Borough and many are not even aware that the service they had no longer exists until they need it and there is none and no one can direct them to where it can be obtained because they have also gone.

    In Croydon we have a total lack of inclusive communication from Public Bodies on so many occassions.

    We have Websites that are out of date and give wrong information that even the body that runs it is unaware of – It is not just Councils – Hospitals GP Practices, Railways, Utilities the Emergency services are all having this malaise.

    So Sally has concerns about the pathway and the lovely green space being ruined and no public meeting about it.

    My concern is Public authorities Quango’s and trusts the are in place to provide services to residents and visitors of a Cummunity as a whole behaving as unregulated dictators and acting with detriment to those same residents and visitors and their living environment. And what of those we elect? Where are they? Why so silent? Do they only communicate with the party faithful? are they afraid of open discourse and debate – unable to take facutal constructive criticism?
    Or are they are infected with that blithe arrogance that are in power and they act in the Greater Good and that we are proles, minions, untalkables? Do they even exist?

    Who knows? They never answer intelligently!

  3. chris myers says:

    Apparently the friends have been trying to get this done for years but no one can explain why! What is the point ???

    • N Bloor says:

      So the waterlogged and muddy park can be accessible to those in wheelchairs, less mobile, pushchairs, joggers and accessible to
      everyone all year round. The Old People’s Centre is at the park and they are very much looking forward to their users being able to get outside into the park. There aren’t many people who oppose the path. There was one built in another Coulsdon park a few years back and it has been great.

  4. Christopher Burgliss says:

    Grange Park is a big park, so visitors should still have enough space for games of football or rounders when this track is finished. The author says that the track will be unsafe because it is near a busy road… but I can see on the picture that the playground comes between the path and the road… so does she want the playground knocked down, seeing as that is closer to the road than this track is?

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