London Borough of Lewisham and BDP introduced their current phase of consultation to improve Mountsfield Park last Wednesday at Hither Green Baptist Church.
Friends of Mountsfield Park (FOMP) Meeting Notes 13th November 2013
Venue: Hither Green Baptist Church, Radford Road
Lewisham Council meeting to discuss proposed community garden with the Council’s designers BDP (Building Design Partnership)
The meeting included the following: Laura Ormerod (BDP Landscape Architect), Martin Hyde (Lewisham Council) Sandra Plummer (Lewisham Council), Max Calo (FOMP Treasurer), Rory McNally (FOMP Chair) Anne-Marie Parker (Lewisham Gardens), Sue Hodge, Peter Ranken (Please contact us if you were at the meeting and would like to be added to this list of attendees).
We were presented with 4 display boards (As above) which included the following information:
1.BDP’s role, what they do and what they can do for us, a summary of the Council’s design brief –
• A new and improved cafe building with indoor seating and toilets
• Improvements to planting and shrubbery
• Better facilities for young people
• Improved play provision
• A new community garden
• New and improved seating
• More exercise and trim trail equipment
Project Programme: Nov 2013 – Dec 2013 -Fact finding, consultation & site analysis. Dec – Feb 2014 – Design options to be developed. Feb- March 2014 – Opportunity for everyone to provide feedback on design options. March – May 2014 – Final design option to be developed to enable tendering of the work. May – June 2014- Tender project to find and engage a contractor. June – Aug 2014 – Public project update and site preparations in readiness to start work. August 2014 – construction/ building work starts.
2. Mountsfield Park – visual appraisal.
3. Examples of what the park needs to make it more attractive and enjoyable for local people.
4. What should the cafe look like and budget breakdowns for FOMP’s preferred (1) bespoke option and a cheaper (2) prefabricated modular/converted shipping container alternative. The overall budgets for both options (cafe building, better play facilities and other improvements) were presented on the consultation boards as £380,351 (13/11/2013), which included the recent £35,000 Pocket Parks Award. The Council’s current budget seems to be a lot less than the figure presented at the Cafe of Good Hope meeting (17-06-2013): £468,000 minus £15,600 that had already been spent on the project and didn’t include the £35,000 Pocket Parks award that at that time hadn’t been won by the Council. The Council’s current budget for the bespoke cafe presented on the consultation boards is £207,000, the cost of the example shown on the boards (Cafe on the Rye) was probably nearer to £360,000 in 2007.The Council’s proposed conversion budget for a modular/container cafe (which we already have on site at the park) is £120,000. The Council seems keen on the modular/ converted container cafe option probably because it’s a lot cheaper and the remaining budget would be available to make other improvements to the park that have been put on hold for so long. FOMP’s preferred option is the bespoke cafe which is better suited to Mountsfield Park. The current converted container cafe at Mountsfield Park hasn’t been a commercial success because it’s cramped inside, low ceiling and without large windows to enjoy the views.
SH suggested that the cafe should be available outside normal park opening hours and that lighting the paths would be a good idea for safe access during the evening. SH also suggested that out of hours access would be improved if the cafe was located closer to Stainton Road.
PR asked whether the cafe building could also include a dedicated community meeting room because Hither Green doesn’t have a meeting area that isn’t in a church, pub or cafe.
This proposal has been discussed at other park meetings and was discounted because:
The 2012 Mountsfield Park design consultation phase found very little demand for an indoor dedicated community meeting space,
The available budget is mainly Rushey Green renewal money (not Hither Green’s),
The Council does not have resources to support a new community meeting place,
Mountsfield Park is open during daylight hours and is not an obvious place for an indoor dedicated community meeting space when there are shared community meeting spaces available locally,
SH asked whether the cafe building could be accessible from the street outside normal park opening times and emphasised the importance of the relationship between the building and community garden. MH, LO and SP stressed that the cafe building and play area should also be within close proximity. We discussed the potential of extending the play area towards the cafe building or even play area relocation nearer to the community garden.
SH suggested visiting community gardens near and far for ideas that could be applied to our own community garden – the attendees agreed that we should do this.
MH and SP reiterated that our bid for £35,000 pocket park funding was successful and that we are waiting to hear whether our bid for the £67,000 Marathon Fund has been successful.
MH explained that proposed tree removal was likely to make the cafe building more visible from the street.
PR raised the importance of improving Mountsfield Parks’s field sports facilities based on local need and sustaining the park’s historic legacy. The Council have suggested that they would like to improve the park’s sports facilities but can’t because of current lack of available budget and the need to prioritise improvements where the demand is greatest. The Council’s 2012 Mountsfield Park improvements consultation found that the demand from the local community for a proper park café and improved play facilities is huge, much greater than those asking for improved field sports facilities.
MH and LO agreed that BDP will develop two cafe design options and arrange another consultation meeting.