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.
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.
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.
Article in the News Hopper about Eliot Pits. Comes out essentially saying that there’s been an “outcry” from 550 petitioners.
Also interesting comment in a previous post about this subject:
According to Steve Bullock’s office, the idea for using Eliot Pits as a pocket park was initially suggested by none other than the Blackheath Society. Unbelievable but true. That’s the same people who threw away £80K trying to stop a two-day pop concert just yards away from the one place in the area where urban kids can play as they would in the country. What are these people up to!
I don’t know whether this is true, but I’ve dropped an email to the Mayor, to see what the response is.