Mountsfield Park sports pitch waterlogged and with accumulated surface water from rainfall (February 2020)
Much of Mountsfield Park has been waterlogged again this winter 2019/2020 which seems to be a frequent annual occurrence. The Stainton Road football pitches have been out of use for months due to the wet ground conditions, which is not great for Dynamo Youth Football Club and other football clubs that come and use the ground. This has been highlighted in the Lewisham Council Playing Pitch Strategy Document and Action Plan which describes the football pitches as “Used by Dynamo Youth heavily and the site currently has poor drainage and significant water logging leading to game cancellations… Poor ancillary facilities on site with subpar toilets and changing rooms.” Unfortunately the document does not highlight the reasons for the poor condition of the pitches and that the football pitches have not been properly maintained during the last 20 years and are used as a car park for the Lewisham People’s Day, which causes soil compaction and in turn makes the existing underground herringbone drainage system ineffective. The soil is clay which needs regular maintenance so that it is to remain permeable for the herringbone drainage to work in winter. The current use of the Mountsfield football pitches is uncontrolled, there are no parks managers or supervisors routinely working at the weekend controlling the use of the football pitches, which makes the situation worse. Routine year round maintenance (eg slit tine aeration), stopping vehicles from accessing the football pitches and controlled use at the weekend would improve the situation for Dynamo Youth and other football teams that use the facility. One of the key actions in the report is to “Support the club in their aspirations to knock down and rebuild a new ancillary facility on site that will include changing rooms and amenities such as a Café.” Not sure if this is an error in the report as there is no existing onsite facility unless the suggestion is to rebuild Stainton Lodge as a sports facility with changing rooms?
Mountsfield Park herringbone and grid underground drainage system lines visible on Google aerial views on Google Earth.
Diagram of existing herringbone and grid underground drainage system.
Mountsfield sports pitch main drain next to Stainton Road, which is designed to carry water from the herringbone drainage. The Mountsfield drainage system and sports pitches are not properly maintained which is why they are backed up and grassland is waterlogged in winter.
Blocked drainage pipes are holding the water back from draining away during wet weather. The water level is at the top of the outflow pipes rather than at invert level (Feb 2020) which shows that there is blockage. An onsite water storage basin should be considered as a means of providing a sustainable drainage system. Eg a pond connected to the sports pitch drainage systems rather than being linked to the sewers which are susceptible to backing up during storm water events.
Mountsfield football pitches used as a car park for Lewisham Peoples Day, which causes soil compaction and in turn poor drainage and water logging in winter. The Mountsfield Park event organisers should consider a drop-off rather than a car park to discourage vehicles from parking on Mountsfield Park at People’s Day or better still to encourage use of public transport. It is considered very bad practice allowing vehicles to park on the grass in parks because of the damage it causes to soil structure, grassland, tree roots and adverse effects on air quality due to encouraging more car journeys than necessary.
When vehicles are given access at events in the park, it is often uncontrolled, which causes a great deal of harm to our precious veteran and other mature trees. Tree roots generally extend to the edge of the canopy (Root protection area (RPA) =12 x stem diameter approx or 15 x stem diameter for veteran trees). Soil compaction caused by vehicles over the tree roots causes trees to decline and then die prematurely. Soil compaction caused by vehicles accessing the park during events damages the soil structure which harms trees and causes water logging during the winter months at Mountsfield Park. Many of Lewisham’s park managers and supervisors do not routinely work at the weekend and are not present at organised events to monitor whether there is effective traffic management in place and our trees are being protected.
Carelessly parked maintenance vehicles causing harmful soil compaction within the root protection areas of parkland trees in Mountsfield Park.
Surface water caused by very heavy rainfall, which then pours into Farley Road back gardens from Mountsfield Park (February 2020). The YouTube video below shows surface water caused by heavy rainfall pouring into Farley Road back gardens from Mountsfield Park. This type of flooding in Mountsfield Park is now more likely due to a combination of increased surface water from storm water events, soil compaction due to events and lack of natural drainage features. The loss of trees during recent years at Mountsfield Park is making the situation much worse.
Tree planting would increase the permeability of the soil up-slope, however the Lewisham Council parks Officers (GreenScene) have expressed concern that more tree planting in the park would interfere with Mountsfield Park as an events venue and as an open space for informal ball games. More than 50 large trees have died at Mountsfield Park during the last 20 years, unfortunately they have not been replaced by the Lewisham parks team. Even though Friends of Mountsfield Park have raised funds and planted 40 avenue trees and an orchard, more trees need to be planted to replace the large trees that have died in the park over recent years. The Lewisham parks team should be working towards accommodating tree planting, other natural drainage features, space for informal ball games and environmentally sustainable community events that do not damage Mountsfield Park as an important local parkland resource.