Is there still a plan to build upon the heath?

Interesting email today from Eliot Pitstop (the pressure group who formed when a Pocket Park was proposed in Eliot Pits – see previous posts).
They are encouraging residents to attend the next Blackheath Assembly meeting this Wednesday at 7.30pm, 3rd July at St Matthew’s Academy.

From their email:

…we understand that two new areas are under consideration for a childrens’ playground:

  • One by the Territorial Army grounds at Hollyhedge House on the Heath,
  • and the other in the middle of the Heath by Talbot Place.
  • They also set out their position:

  • The Blackheath Assembly has not demonstrated that it has a proper mandate to promote the building of a permanent childrens’ playground on the Heath. It needs to explain how it believes that it has the authority to promote such a proposal;
  • The need for an equipped chidrens’ playground in Blackheath Ward has not been established as there are many equipped play areas both within the Ward and within the vicinity of Blackheath;
  • We need to protect the Heath from any permanent development and from the building of permanent structures and also to prevent a precedent being established which would enable Lewisham Council to easily achieve such development without public consultation in the future.
  • Full email is here as a PDF.

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    39 Comments

    Filed under blackheath, planning

    39 responses to “Is there still a plan to build upon the heath?

    1. Joe

      They’ve got to be really careful about not setting a precedent which would give an unscrupulous council a perpetual excuse to chip away at precious community green space. There’s plenty of play space around, it’s called the Heath! I used to play there when I was a kid, no need to build anything on it. We really need more green space, not less, so more parks/play space located thoughtfully in built-up town centres would be a better idea and benefit many more children than developing the Heath would.

      • Although my mentioned comments, I do agree with Joe! Yet, I do think some sort of trim trail would most certainly aid play plus promote health and fitness, most importantly fitting in with the surroundings. If correctly located.

    2. Hi, I have two young boys that would love to know where all these supposed fully equipped playgrounds are in and around Blackheath?

      Where could really do with one is the top end of the park or how about the pits park side?

      Doesn’t seem to be much in the way of wild life that could be considered endangered but instread maybe the odd burnt out scoot of pile of dog muck!

      Would welcome thoughts and info on above mentioned!

      • Anonymous

        A playground on the Heath somewhere would be nice. I don’t believe in NIMBYISM which some if this sounds like. No to a play ground near to the pits, fine; not anywhere serves only the needs of a vocal minority. I would favour a small park near the TA.

      • Anonymous

        Clearly ‘burnt out scooter’ and ‘or’ not ‘of’!
        I’m terrible at not reading what I type… I blame the apple!

    3. Thaisa

      The Heath is there for locals to enjoy and I think a playground would only enhance that purpose. Surely any local has a right to put forward an idea? I believe trees should be planted along the roads there to block the view of the traffic, decreasing the carbon monoxide fumes as well. They would provide some shade in the summer and help to cut down the wind in the winter. I’m sure many would be proud to sponsor a tree.

    4. richard

      Old people. You gotta love em. Are they still trying to close the tea hut down?

    5. Joe

      In reply to Orangeblimp, I think it depends where we’re talking about. There’s actually some pretty interesting and scarce wildlife (butterflies, breeding birds, scarce plants etc) in the pits either end of the Heath as many surveys and observations have revealed. I litter pick the Vanbrugh Dips fairly often and it’s a real shame that people think there’s nothing there – there were, for example, nesting warblers, Song Thrushes, Greenfinches and hundreds of butterflies last summer and hopefully this summer too! There are not many places left in Greenwich where you can see all this (and kids can and do run and cycle around there very happily). A well-designed and assessed play area on the site of the TA/Hollyhedge House area, on the other hand, might not be so bad as it’s already built on, but the main thing is it should be somewhere that won’t destroy our area’s last traces of biodiversity.

      • Anonymous

        It would help biodiversity if Glendale stopped mowing the Heath to within an inch of its life. When it was too wet to mow earlier this year the Heath exploded with wild flowers. There are still areas buzzing with bees and other insects – which in turn encourage birds. I recognize that areas used for sports need trimming but there are large swathes such as near the PoW pond and pockets such as the banks along Tranquil Vale which could be left unshorn. Unmown strips along Prince Charles Road, bunds next to the A2 and the stretch between the Tea Hut and Whitmore Mount show how wild life can flourish without detracting from leisure uses.

        • Joe

          I agree. There’s still plenty of space for sports that can be mown while allowing wildflowers to flourish in other areas, and as you say, the unmown bunds, the Vanbrugh Dips and the other sites you mention show what rich biodiversity is possible here. Connecting these areas with long-grass corridors would also help various plant and insect species to spread and recolonise. In my view the different colours of the tall grasses look beautiful. It would also save money on maintenance, so everyone’s a winner!

    6. Joe

      Orangeblimp – I only just read your second comment! Exactly, it’s sensitively locating and designing it that’s the issue. It may be that an area already concreted could be found and adapted without much trouble. Does anyone have any ideas? Doesn’t have to actually be on the Heath itself.

    7. Steve

      I, too, would like to know where the nearest children’s playground is to Blackheath. The ones in Greenwich Park and Manor House Gardens are each nearly a mile away. Can’t see a problem putting one somewhere on/near Blackheath, personally. It would be well-used.

      • Anonymous

        A mile ? That’s only a 20 minute walk

        • Alright long legs! What about toddler legs and grand parents or the lesser abled?

          A 20 minute hike back up the hill with 3 children and everything that goes with… I’d be looking at more like 40 minutes at a good pace and I’d say I was fairly fit.

          We live on the Standard and yes, plenty of green space (Dodging the dog poo) but kids enjoys a variety of play!

    8. Jon Lee

      How about the area next to Lewisham Station? Anybody any idea what is going on there? Seems like a good place for a playground. Good access and no environmental problems.

    9. Emily

      It would be really nice to have a playspace somewhere near the actual village. The people who talk about the lovely natural play area that is the heath – do any of you have young kids? They really like playgrounds. And its really hard to get them to places that are far away. There are tons of young families in the village. It would be a very positive addition to Blackheath if we can find the right space.

      • Anonymous

        Totally agree. We live next to Greenwich Park and our kids use the playground almost every day. It’s an invaluable resource to have on the doorstep, and the families of Blackheath need the same.

        Just not on the Heath.

        Consider taking it up with the Blackheath Society. They have the resources and contacts to make it happen if they’re urged to be proactive on this – and I know they’re very keen to get more younger people and families involved with and members of the Blackheath Society.

        • Joe

          Agree with these comments – let’s find a space that’s right, not on the Heath which is a short-sighted cop out and also sets a precedent for more and more construction, but somewhere that’ll enhance the Blackheath area for kids rather than take away from it. Somewhere next to established facilities (shops, toilets, bus stops – or at least near where some facilities can be provided easily) and homes and streets where people live. Anyone from the Blackheath Society got any thoughts?

    10. Exactly!

      Come only Blackheath society, prove that can can be proactive and not just put block everything, get involved and enjoy it… The children of generations to come could and would benefit from extra activities.

      • Franklin

        To clarify my suggestion of 11:21pm yesterday (accidentally made anomously, sorry): those who live in Blackheath and want a playground should consider CONTACTING the Blackheath Society and asking them to support the proposal for a playground near the village. I’m not sure a couple of blog comments will be enough to attract their attention, much less get them moving on this. And consider joining the Blackheath Society as well…

    11. I’d love for my daughter to have a play ground to goto, it does take 30mins to walk to either the Greenwich park or manor house ones. You only need to look at the popularity of the greenwich park playground to realize the benefit kids get from it. Playgrounds are a fantastic way to introduce kids to further sports, sure they can run around the heath and throw a ball or chase butterflies and they’ll do that too, however playgrounds are invaluable.

      I personally think the heath is in need of some love, I jog around there a few times per week, large parts are unkept, the grounds aren’t flat, they are not currently suitable for play, there is no wind block so it can get very gusty, the traffic is an eyesore not to mention the noise pollution (wish the road could be sunk).

      Some possible locations on this map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=
      215399385659095928331.0004e13a4056b8854e8b3

      • ND

        interesting ideas, though I think the Blackheath Society would have litters of kittens at some of your suggestions! I reckon a decent option would be to bite off a portion of the Deer Park (at the top of Greenwich Park) which is absolutely massive and hugely under-utilised, and install a big adventure playground. Easy to also put in a toilet block and also subject to park opening hours, so the requisite access control etc. Can’t see who would have a problem with this, apart from perhaps the deer lovers out there, or King Henry VIII if there is some sort of covenant on that section! Thoughts?

        • Joe

          Oh no, that’s the only bit of the Park with a bit of ancient woodland left and it’s a last refuge for nesting birds and other wildlife in an increasingly crowded area. I realise not everyone cares about that but enough do to fight such an idea – we ought to be trying to look after biodiversity not build over what’s left! Even the Heath would be a better choice if we were forced to sacrifice somewhere. The rest of the Park suffers from a lot of disturbance so this would be a real shame and just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean it’s useless. Must everywhere be used all the time? Is there value only if there are crowds using a place? Let’s find somewhere better than wildlife habitat and public green space to build this playground. Can’t we sacrifice part of a car park instead?

      • Bob Land

        Just clicked on to the link you published, it came up with a map of the USA ! Bit a long walk from the Village or not ?

      • Joe

        I think we all agree about a playground being a nice idea, but lots of people would like lots of things and it doesn’t mean we should agree to their particular demands. Presumably when people moved near the Heath didn’t they realise there were no playgrounds there at the time? It’s part of the choices you weigh up when you check out an area to move to. I agree about the traffic and noise being a big problem, though!

        The issue is where to put it. The Heath is for everyone and the danger once to build something permanent on it is that it sets a precedent (lots of people want a car park, so why not? It would be well used… etc). Once you build one thing to satisfy one group then another will want something, too. This is an unusual situation where we have a green space surrounded by but currently safe from development and ever-increasing pressure to make money from every bit of land. As such it is vulnerable to any mistakes.

        There are unkempt areas because I’m guessing they want to increase the number of plants and invertebrates (there are some scarce plants on the Heath), while saving a bit of cash, and there’s still big areas which are like a bowling-green. Personally I think it looks nice! We need bees and we need playing fields, and both are there. Originally it was very bumpy and only in relatively recent times was it flattened out, but this adds variety to it, not sure flattening it all would be better.

        My opinion? A playground would be good, but on a brownfield site, not at the cost of public green space or parkland.

        • Joe, I think you may have not quite got the point…

          Most postings suggest in or around Blackheath or just somewhere this end of the park.

          I don’t think anyone expects a playground with swings and slides slap bang on the Heath!

          And as to the comment about knowing this before moving here… Do you think that everyone that moves here already have children? Is there a slim possibly that there are a lot of people have lived and grew up here and actually started their own family whilst living here?

          Pardon me if this sounds a tad rude but thought it needed pointing out.

          Regards,

          A resident through and through.

    12. Anonymous

      OK Orangeblimp, fair enough, perhaps the heat got to me a bit ;) And I agree with you about the moving here thing, of course there are long-term residents having families here too… So I take that less than clever comment back! I suppose I just got a bit fed up of hearing one side of the argument and put my views across clumsily. Absolutely no offence intended.

      Also I was kind of replying to other commenters who seem to think the Heath needs changing in a particular way or are suggesting outlandish places like the Deer Enclosure in the Park for playgrounds (I think that might have been a joke, though…?).

      A playground in or around Blackheath Village istelf sounds like a good idea, don’t get me wrong!

    13. Joe

      OK, don’t know if that comment posted properly so I’ll try again…

      Orangeblimp you are absolutely right! I take back that rather silly comment and please know that no offence was intended. Of course plenty of people have families having been born here. A playground in or next to Blackheath Village is a good idea, don’t get me wrong.

      In my defence I will say that a couple of commenters have suggested outlandish places like the Deer Enclosure in the Park (although that may have been a joke) and criticised the Heath’s appearance and expressed a wish to make moderations to it. So I was also responding to them, although I accept many people such as yourself were quite reasonably arguing for a playground in a sensible location! …I think this hot weather doesn’t suit me :)

    14. Franklin

      I raised this issue with a member of the Blackheath Society Exec last night, and was surprised to learn that the Blackheath Society had already put together a proposal to rebuild the Talbot Place changing rooms (the one-story building marked as ‘God these are ugly…’ on sonic78′s google map, which houses the offices/storage space for the Heath park keepers) to make much better use of that (large) space, including building a new playground there.

      That would seem like a great location to me, right next to All Saints primary school and close enough to the centre of the village to be easily accessible – although I suspect the neighbours on Talbot Place might object on noise grounds.

      I believe that it’s going to be discussed at the next Blackheath Assembly meeting (in September?), but contact the Blackheath Society for more info – and if you support the proposal then consider joining them and helping out!

      • sonic78

        Fantastic, I thought that spot was the most ideal too, and it fits the bill regarding regeneration as opposed to using an existing green area such as the pits.

        I think I will go to the next assembly, Going to be living in Blackheath for a considerable time now so seems sensible to get involved.

      • Its not just Talbot Place, there are lots of houses nearby. Not to mention that the car park and west side of Talbot Place is in high use for the various football tournaments on the heath and of course a storage area of Glendale equipment (where else could this be moved?!). If the changing rooms weren’t derelict they would be high use as well. Hence, whilst it might seem a reasonable spot, it is far from ideal.

        If a playground really must be built, why not find a spot away from where it can disturb people? I think the proposers are also ignoring the large amount of ‘anti-social behaviour’ on the heath (I hate that phrase but can’t think of a better one). Any playground would just be vandalised/home to ne’er do wells most nights – since All Saints Church is vandalised regularly/home to teenagers most weekends then a playground is more than fair game – shouldn’t this issue be prioritised?

        • Franklin

          I think any decent, well-maintained playground would have to be fenced and locked at night, wherever it is. That would address your concerns about vandalism and kids hanging about at night.

          I haven’t seen the plans but I understood (and I could be wrong of course) that the Blackheath Soc proposal includes demolishing the existing (and not very attractive) building(s?) on Talbot Place which house the changing rooms and Glendale storage/offices, and replacing them with new, more attractive buildings while also making more effective use of that pretty large site to be able to include a playground.

          If anyone from the Blackheath Society Executive reads this, could you provide more details?

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