Council fiasco over parks and open spaces: Please Act Now

The Local Plan Modifications consultation ends on Tuesday (10 October). It suffered a major setback when the Inspector decided that the section designating Local Green Spaces should be deleted because the Council had failed to provide evidence how each space met the national planning criteria.  Cabinet member Alison Butler explains:

‘The Council set out its case for these sites in our draft plan.

What seems to have been made clear by the Inspector is that he is looking for local communities to show why the space is special to them and the council is encouraging communities and residents to respond to the modifications. Our response defends our designation of Local Green Space but the strongest response will be local residents’ views on why they deem these spaces special.’

She has, however, refused to have circulated for use by Residents Associations, Friends groups and others, the latest Council submission to the Inspector.

Parks engagement officer Meike Weiser sent out an email on 5 October asking Friends groups to consider submitting their view on why any/all of these places are special, what makes them special, and why a de-designation and possible loss of these spaces would be detrimental. 

Despite the fact that the Council has badly let us all down, if you want to support the designation of Local Green Spaces please submit your comments to ldf@croydon.gov.uk

or through the Council’s website (which has more details of the whole process.

Many Residents Associations may feel sceptical given the way in which the Council dismissed most of their issues, concerns and proposed amendments to the Local Plan both in the original consultation and at the Inspector’s Examination Hearings in May, as reflected in the small number of modifications being proposed by the Council.

The Conservative Group of Councillors has not helped because having held one of its regular meetings with Associations to discuss planning issues, it took a lot of prodding to ensure that it emailed round the documents, instead of doing it immediately.

For background see my piece at

https://thecroydoncitizen.com/politics-society/last-chance-improve-croydon-local-plan

Tuesday is also the closing date for the Vision for 6 Parks consultation

 The Council’s consultation on the future “design” and management of six parks closes on this Tuesday.

 https://getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk/KMS/DMart.aspx

One of the 6 is Happy Valley near Coulsdon. Those that know it well  believe that the proposals will be damaging to a site that is well known for its peaceful countryside and important wildlife. They say:

‘Croydon Council no longer has a dedicated Parks Department. Croydon has 127 parks and open spaces. A recent masterplan” identified just six of them for some form of on-going funding and management arrangement, with the rest left to fend for themselves. Proposals for these six sites are currently under public consultation. The most important of these sites is Happy Valley near Coulsdon, comprising approximately 250 acres of chalk downland, meadows and ancient woodland. Much of the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Site of Metropolitan Importance within Greater London.

Although the council cannot afford to pay park keepers it has managed to find money to pay consultants. Their plan is to make the site commercial, introducing picnic sites, holding “small” events and even considering a caravan park! There is also the implied threat of tree planting. We do not consider such activities compatible with this ancient and fragile landscape of field systems.’

They ask you to add your voice to the consultation.

Go to https://getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk and either select the consultation from the scrolling banner or follow the ‘get involved’ link and find “Croydon’s parks vision”. At the bottom of that page you can find a “report” (in reality a sketch map of the site with impossibly vague recommendations) and a link to the survey. Please reject any proposals which would damage the site.

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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