We want a cafe in Mountsfield Park. We have been campaigning for a cafe for years, and have been promised one by Lewisham Council – including as part of the Council redevelopment of the park that created the Community Garden and revamped the play area. But the Council were unable to follow through on their plan to build a cafe at that time. Since then, we have worked with them to identify some funding – £50k – to launch a tender process to encourage an outside investor to build a cafe in the park.
A viable and attractive cafe plan is in front of Lewisham Council for approval right now – made by a local businessman who has worked closely with the Friends of Mountsfield Park. You can see the plans and some pictures of the new cafe here.
But the planning department at the Council is making unreasonable demands:
they are demanding that the new design have a ‘biodiverse living roof’ to replace what they claim is a living roof on the existing, abandoned container units. In fact, the current ‘living roof’ is around a dozen unmaintained planters. We have offered to move these and add them to the Community Garden, so there is no loss of natural habitat, but the Council says this isn’t good enough.
they are demanding that the new design meet the ‘BREEAM’ environmental rating of ‘exellent’, even though the Council was prepared to waive this requirement for the cafe they planned to build in Mountsfield Park! In other words, had the Council actually managed to deliver the cafe they promised in 2014, we would now have a cafe that didn’t meet these very high standards. The current proposal meets the ‘BREEAM’ environmental rating of ‘good’ with an aim to achieve ‘very good’. This means the current plans exceed mandatory standards by some margin.
If Lewisham Council turns down the current proposal – for what we think are spurious reasons – it could be years before another option is available and the money we fought to get the Council to commit to support the project – £50k – will be at risk.
We want the Council to take an intelligent approach, to look at the benefits a cafe would bring to Mountsfield Park: it will bring in revenue, encourage people to stay in the park longer and enjoy the Community Garden and play area, improve security by making the park more attractive to families, provide a place for dog walkers to get a cup of coffee, and it will mean that maintained toilet facilities are available in the park. These are far more important that a handful of planters!
add your signature to this petitionby 3 August 2016 to let Lewisham Council know you agree that we’ve waited long enough for a cafe and toilets in Mountsfield Park.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org 3 August 2016 with any further comments, thoughts, and experiences. All evidence is good evidence and will help us to make the case.
Tell your friends and neighbours! Share the petition, share this blog post
We want a cafe. The park deserves a cafe. It needs functioning toilet facilities. A local businessman is willing to invest to create an amazing cafe. Short-sighted planning decisions shouldn’t stop it happening.
Glendale and Jimmy Mizen Cafes announced that Sammy T’s at Mountsfield Park will now be open 10am – 5pm, Wednesday through to Sunday. During cafe opening hours the Mizens will be responsible for opening, cleaning and repairing the park toilets (located behind the turquoise cafe container building). Jimmy Mizen Cafes also run the park cafe at Ladywell Fields, Lewisham.
Jimmy Mizen Cafes – Sammy T’s at Mountsfield Park, open 10am – 5pm, Wednesday – Sunday
Saturday 20 September the newly-pedestrianised Catford Broadway will host the free showing of the 1980s sci-fi classic ‘Flash Gordon’.
The night starts at 7pm with the film starting at 7.30pm sharp. There will be street food from local chefs Route 66 serving up the fresh Mexican flavours of southern California, as well as a pop-up bar by local pub the Catford Constitutional Club.
The audience are encouraged to bring a cushion, blankets or their own seating to avoid ‘numb bum’ by sitting on the concrete floor. The guideline being ‘if you can carry it, then you can bring it’.
The night has been organised by Deck Social, who delivered the Catford Broadway Supper Club, the Catford Canteen, the Deptford Brunch Club, and the newly-formed Catford Society.
The Catford Broadway Pop-Up Cinema is a taster event for the Catford Free Film Festival launching in March 2015 – which aims to bring people together from across the community to enjoy free films.
FRIENDS OF MOUNTSFIELD PARK (FOMP ) – RESPONSE TO LATEST COUNCIL (LA) PROPOSALS FOR OUR PARK
6 AUGUST 2014
Following concerns raised by FOMP, Councillor Rachel Onikosi, the Cabinet Member for the Public Realm at Lewisham LA, convened a meeting on 31 July. This meeting gave the opportunity for FOMP to raise our concerns in person and for the LA to present revised proposals for the redevelopment of Mountsfield Park.
The LA made clear its view that the available budget will not stretch to cover the three main elements of the redevelopment plans – the community garden, the cafe, and the playground – and reaffirmed its belief that the cafe should be removed from the current phase of work.
The LA has asked for comments on the revised proposals, and for these to be given by 8 August in order to influence the final decision to be made by Councillor Onikosi, which has placed FOMP in a very difficult position. We have discussed the proposals and other options within FOMP and across the wider community.
Although there are naturally a range of views about how best to proceed, one fact remains unequivocally clear – there is deep disappointment that the latest LA proposals still fail to include a café in this phase of work, despite it being the most important issue during the last public consultation in 2012, and despite repeated requests by FOMP that a café be prioritised. The temporary solution proposed – a canopy between the existing container units, showed a dismissive lack of imagination.
At the same time, FOMP are pleased to see that the LA has listened to concerns about the proposed improvements to the Children’s play area. Through making more sensible design and budgeting decisions, the LA has achieved a proposal that replaces the dangerous and obsolete pieces of play equipment, and introduces brand new pieces of good quality play equipment. FOMP are pleased to have the opportunity to influence the final choices over pieces of equipment.
The LA also reaffirmed its desire to push ahead with the community garden. Whilst FOMP have always agreed with this in principle, we have been concerned that the LA is determined, as part of this work, to knock-down the old wall and toilet block, both of which we feel could potentially be of use in the future.
According to the LA’s plans, when the above work is done, there will be around £56,000 remaining. There is also a £40,000 contingency in the LA budget which might be available at the end of the project. The figures, as we understand them, are set out in more detail in Annex A.
The FOMP response
FOMP remain committed to an ambitious vision for Mountsfield Park. The LA proposals, whilst an improvement on the current amenities, fall short of doing justice to the potential of a much valued and well used green space. We have had to weigh our disappointment in the failure to deliver a café against the pressing need to see improvements in the playground area.
Regardless of the outcome of this phase of work, FOMP continues to be determined to mobilise the enthusiasm of the local community and seek ways to raise funds to deliver tangible and long-lasting improvements to Mountsfield Park. FOMP are determined that this phase of work does nothing to undermine any future ambitions.
After careful consideration of the LA’s proposals, and discussions with other local groups, FOMP believe that the best course of action is to offer qualified support, but only if a number of conditions are met:
First, work on the community garden should press ahead, and we can see that the LA is determined to knock-down the old toilet blocks. But we ask that the LA does not knock-down the wall that runs along one end of the area before further conversations with FOMP. All or part of the wall could be a valuable asset in the future, for example as part of the community garden itself, or as a backdrop to other work (e.g. greenhouses, etc.), and FOMP would like the opportunity to discuss these options further.
Second, we have lost all confidence in the ability of BDP to deliver a café. Their processes of design and tendering have failed, and their attempts to offer a basic canopy between the existing containers were derisory. We want the LA to ringfence £50,000 so that FOMP can consider ways to use this money more effectively to deliver the café that the park deserves, and for Councillor Onikosi to give a public commitment that this money will remain available until a café is delivered. Based on some promising initial conversations, we believe that, taken away from the LA’s unwieldy procurement processes, this money could help us to quickly generate additional funds, to build a cafe that will become an iconic local space within the next 12 months. In the first instance, FOMP want a discussion with the current operators to consider options.
Third, we are pleased that the LA has listened to FOMP concerns about the playground, and have made improvements. FOMP will engage with BDP to influence the final selection of pieces of play equipment.
Fourth, it is critical that the LA improves the park’s toilet facilities in the short term, until the new cafe is ready.
Fifth, we ask that the LA undertakes a commitment that the contingency of £40,000 only be spent where necessary to deliver the plans as specified, and that money is not transferred to other projects within the park. As much of the £40,000 contingency as possible should be added to the £50,000 ringfenced for the cafe, on the same terms. To give FOMP confidence, the LA should agree to be transparent about when and why it intends to use the contingency.
Finally, we believe that, in order to continue to improve the park for all users, it is important that information about activities and plans are properly advertised. So we ask that the LA uses some of the money remaining to place lockable poster boards at each entrance to the park. This is something that FOMP have asked of the LA previously.
FOMP now asks the LA to respond quickly to confirm that the conditions set out above can be met, before FOMP is willing to offer public support for the latest set of LA proposals. Without this assurance, FOMP remains concerned that the redevelopment of Mountsfield Park will continue to represent a missed opportunity.
Once the LA has agreed to ringfence £50,000 (to be increased dependent on the use of the contingency), FOMP undertakes to lead conversations with potential partners – starting with the current operators – to deliver the café that users of Mountsfield Park have lacked for too long.
LA building costs, as set out on 31 July 2014
Community Garden – includes demolition of WC block and general clearance
Preliminary and set-up costs
Amount remaining for café
The total budget for the project is circa £525,000, with around £100,000 set aside for non-building related costs.
On several occasions, the LA has referred to the ‘abortive costs’ of not proceeding with its recommendation and returning to the drawing board. The LA have now confirmed that these ‘abortive costs’ – in other words costs that would be incurred from the overall budget if it fails to move forward with activity as proposed – will total £78,497.
The meeting with Lewisham Council Officers, Cllr Onikosi and MP Heidi Alexander on the 31 July 2014 was very interesting. As a result of our representations the Council have made some
significant changes to their plans. But their proposal still doesn’t include building a cafe, which is obviously a massive issue for us. We will be meeting with Mehron Kirk of BDP on Wednesday 6 August to discuss options for the proposed play area improvements. We are still waiting to hear from Lewisham Council how their design Consultant, BDP designed a cafe building for us that went out to tender and received no responses from contractors. And that the returned tenders for the other two elements were up to 50% over budget, meaning that there was no money left for the cafe building. During the Council’s Mountsfield Park 2012 consultation phase for improvements, the new cafe building was preferred by a significant majority of those consulted.
Please come again to meet with Lewisham Council Officers and Cllr Rachel Onikosi, to discuss the future of the 2014 Mountsfield Park improvements. The conclusion from the 9th July meeting was that there wasn’t enough support for the Council to proceed with their current proposals to improve the play area, create a community garden and put the proposed cafe building on hold. We are hoping that at this meeting we can find a way that the Council can do all of the improvements including the cafe building in one go. The Council explained to us during the design consultation phase, that we need the improved play area, 90 sq/m cafe building and community garden that make up the Mountsfield Park hub, to make our park a much better place for everyone.
The Council have invited Friends of Mountsfield Park to meet with them to work out a way forward at an open meeting, Civic Suite Catford SE6 4RU, Thursday 31st July 2014 at 7 pm . All Welcome!