Greenwich Council saves playing field from Greenwich Council

Greenwich Time, 14 April 2015
The election doesn’t stop Greenwich Time – it just removes councillors from its pages for a few weeks. But the weekly paper remains to subtly associate the council with Good Things in the area, and to drone on about “royal borough” this and “royal borough” that.

This week’s Good Thing is the rescuing of Kidbrooke’s Hervey Road Playing Field, which has had the threat of redevelopment hanging over it for years now. There’s a council press release on it too, linking it to other Good Things such as improvements to nearby Hornfair Park.

Except the only threat to Hervey Road Playing Field came from… Greenwich Council. Until 2011, the council had been planning to move Willow Dene special school from Plumstead to the site, until it became clear that building on open land wasn’t going to be a popular option – particularly with the tenacious Save Hervey Road Sports Field campaign in full swing.

“It is clear that the process to secure planning consent for a development at Hervey Road might produce challenge, given its current use and planning designation for Community Open Space in the Unitary Development Plan,” a paper presented to Greenwich Council’s cabinet in July 2011 said with some understatement.

So the council backtracked, Willow Dene stayed in Plumstead and now has a brand new building; and finally Hervey Road field has been declared safe. It should never have taken this long.

Of course, those who only see Greenwich Time – like those who lived in East Germany’s “valley of the clueless” because they never saw western TV – won’t know the full story. Hervey Road got a happy ending – but it’s just another little example of how the council abuses its dominant weekly paper to shape perceptions of itself.

6 comments

  1. MiceElf

    And surprise, surprise they failed to publish my very well written letter commenting in their statement about Greenwich Time.

  2. janetandpeter@talktalk.net

    Hi The one on the far right of the pic, in red jacket and holding a ball, is me. Janet

  3. maryorelse

    I am in at least two minds about this. I am glad open space is being preserved – and normally I would be delighted. Not sure about this site though. As Darryl says it was reserved for a new school for children with severe special needs – and this predated Greenwich Council taking over the site, and was a decision of the old Inner London Education Authority. I was elected to the Council in 2000 when plans were in place to shut the old Maze Hill school and sell for housing development – which is what happened. Parents were outraged – Maze Hill was small local school which had been built, I think, for deaf children – shutting it meant that children often with severe mobility problems would be strapped in a bus twice a day for well over an hour while they were transported to Willow Dene. Willow Dene is not really in Plumstead, it is actually on the borders with Bexley and near East Wickham. I promised parents then that while I was on the Council I would do what I could to see that a new school was built in a central position in the Borough. Ok – so I am not on the Council now. This decision on Hervey Road just demonstrates to me that I am just another politician who has broken promises they made to get elected. I didn’t mean to be like that. Its how we all end up.

  4. maryorelse

    PS – and I know this is mean spirited of me – but while it is good that some children can run round and play at Hervey Road – we need to keep in mind those who cannot do so at all.

  5. bikemapper

    “I promised parents then that while I was on the Council I would do what I could … I am just another politician who has broken promises they made to get elected.” It’s when people don’t even try, or when they find reasons not to try, that gets me down.

    My own thing is cycling, and regarding the development of an amenable cycling environment, I would like for people to do as much as possible at least bureaucracy first (aka at least cost first). If some bits aren’t very good just now, or if it is going to take a few years to build a bridge, okay, no biggy – we just need to win the war, we don’t have to win every single battle.

  6. Karran Danks

    Dear Darryl – I am not sure if you are aware that this field is under threat again. The Council and Blackheath Rugby club have unveiled (after a LOT of pressure) from locals plans to install seven junior pitches and floodlights squeezed onto the grassed area surrounded by 10 foot high netting this will result in noise for local residents all day every day and every evening (last booking is said to start 9.30 at night but who knows when they will finish?)

    They plan an on-site licenced bar, a ban for locals walking dogs, jogging or taking their children out for picnics and other informal sports activities unless they pay a subscription to BRC and an increase in traffic as people try to park on already congested streets.

    While not against all the plans (a specially adapted playground would be wonderful for local children with special needs) the residents are horrified at the plans for disruption to their peace and quiet and thoughts of coaches/cars coming from Dulwich to use the space and a ban on them being able to use the field freely as they have done for many years.

    Unfortunately the Friends of the Field are in support of their plans (possibly because some members of the rugby club are on their board?!)