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Lewisham Mayor’s office responds about Eliot Pits

Got a very rapid response from the Mayor’s office. See below:

Dear Blackheath Bugle,

I am writing to you on behalf of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, to acknowledge receipt of your email received 28th May 2013.

Having looked into this matter at Sir Steve’s request, the proposal for Eliot Pits to be considered as a suitable place to install children’s play facilities was first suggested at a Blackheath Ward assembly by local ward councillors as a key ward priority to meet a lack of an accessible children’s play area. By way of background, the criteria set out for the selection of sites for a children’s play space were that the site should be publically accessible and within the boundary of the Blackheath Ward. Any structures should not impact on the vista of the Heath, not be sited too close to residential properties and any facility should not have a detrimental affect on the ecology of the green space. Ward Councillors discussed various options within the Blackheath ward with parks officers, the Blackheath Society and the Local Assembly and it was decided that Eliot Pits was an option to put forward to the next stage. Options for sites on the more open sections of the Heath were rejected due to the impact on vista. I am also advised that during these meetings no suitable alternative had been suggested by members of the wider public.

That said, I would like to clarify that discussions into this suggestion are at a very early stage. The feasibility process has only recently started and nothing will be done until a phase 1 ecological survey is carried out by an independent consultant. Should the findings and recommendations in the survey conclude that the process can continue without detriment to the ecology of the area, the Council will commission landscape architects to begin the feasibility stage leading to outline design proposals. At this stage officers would carry out in-depth consultation with local residents, the Blackheath Society, the Safer Neighbourhood Team for Blackheath, the Blackheath Ward Assembly and other interested parties in addition to the relevant council officers. Following this, officers will ask the architects to complete the brief and then decide on particular proposals prior to seeking all necessary approvals and consents (Ministerial consent will be required for the permanent erection of the play equipment on the common). As part of the Ministerial consent process, there will be an opportunity for consultees to write to the Planning Inspectorate with any views on the proposal.

I trust that this is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Williams
Office of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham

Sounds like a level-headed response to me. Would be good to see the initial proposals as a public document. As a side-note, it might be worth also following David Notton who has been tweeting his ecological examinations of the pits:

I wonder whether having an active and responsive residents group in Blackheath in some way acts to the detriment of less wealthy parts of Lewisham in this instance. Because the Blackheath Society is so good at spotting potential sources of funding, it inevitably means that it will put in bids for funding more expertly than say a group based around a more deprived housing estate in another part of Lewisham. This isn’t a criticism of the Blackheath Society, just an observation.

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