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Corporation of London responds to protest over closure of Hampstead Heath play facility

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The DPNF have received a reply (see letter below) from Yvette Hughes, Business Manager – Hampstead Heath, in response to the concerns expressed by members of the community to the possible closure of the very popular children facilities on Hampstead Heath.

Since it’s launch in October over 2,170 have signed a petition against the proposed cuts to these facilities that have provided local children with access to play and learning for many years.

While this response confirms that the paddling pool will continue to operate as before, it does not give a clear picture of what the plans are for the adventure playground or the 1 O’ clock club from March 2016.

Given the incredible response in the community to the threat of closure it would seem pertinent that the Corporation of London consultation procedure is extended to include the members of the local community who depend on the facility for their families.

Here is the letter from Yvette Hughes in full:

Thank you for your email regarding the facilities at Hampstead Heath, which has been passed to me by the Director of Open Spaces, Sue Ireland.

It is clear that are concerned about the  reports which you may have seen or heard regarding budget cuts and redundancies.  Unfortunately, the articles are inaccurate and misleading.  The City of London is not closing services on the Heath and will continue to provide a first class experience for all who visit.  Like any accountable public services provider we have a responsibility to make sure we are providing an efficient and effective service, in order to achieve the best results for our local communities.

London is growing quickly and the more people use our sites, the more we need to make sure they are fit for the future. Long term sustainability is key to achieving our overall purpose of preserving and protecting world class green spaces for the benefit of our local communities and the environment.

As part of this work we are running a staff consultation asking for their views, ideas and suggestions on how we can deliver some services more effectively, potentially supplemented by income generation in some areas, where that is appropriate. We will then consider how any services should change in light of their feedback.

 Adventure Playground & One O‘ Clock Club Commitment

The City Corporation will continue to operate both facilities with potential changes to the opening times, winter opening arrangements and introducing charges.  The after school and Saturday sessions at the Adventure Playground will continue along with a school holiday programme.  The proposals include creating a new post of Play and Learning Project Officer to run the children’s play sessions with a stronger focus on wildlife and the Heath’s natural environment.  The City Corporation will continue to licence and support the Queen’s Crescent Community Association who provide the morning Ten O’ Clock Club at the Peggy Jay Centre.

Parliament Hill Playground Commitment

The playground will remain open as usual, although parents and guardians will be required to supervise the young children in their care.  The City Corporation will continue to maintain the facility including litter collection, toilet cleaning, playground safety inspections and through regular maintenance.  The supervision and maintenance of the paddling pool will continue as normal.

Education commitment

The current level of funding for education will increase, supplemented with further funding opportunities from grant applications.  The City Corporation is consulting staff on realigning the play and education services with our new learning framework to ensure the best possible outcomes for the students and teachers.  The new learning programme, which will involve the Adventure Playground and One O’ Clock Club will focus on the Heath’s natural environment and will aim to encourage young people from local communities to become actively engaged with demonstrable outcomes which we intend to share across our Open Spaces Department and with other green spaces providers in London.

The proposals include four education posts which will be based on the Heath and supported by a wider team of education specialists from our Open Spaces Department.  The Heath learning team will also develop a new project aiming to get more disadvantaged under 5s and their families playing in wild areas on the Heath.  As well as providing opportunities for NEET young people in the Heath’s communities to learn about the green space sector through a new open spaces wide partnership project.

To summarise, a review of services on the Heath has identified that some aspects could be run more efficiently and where appropriate supplemented by income generation, which would be re-invested back into Heath services.  The City Corporation is now running a staff consultation asking for views, ideas and suggestions on a range of proposals aligned to the learning programme.

I hope this helps explain the process we are following and our commitment to play and learning.

Best wishes

Yvette

Yvette  Hughes

Business Manager – Hampstead Heath

Telephone: 020 7332 3977

Fax: 020 8348 1677

Email: yvette.hughes@cityoflondon.gov.uk

www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/hampsteadheath

www.facebook.com/hampsteadheathofficial

www.twitter.com/CityCorpHeath

Closure of Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Children from Gospel Oak School the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Children from Gospel Oak School visit the Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve

Members of the DPNF are working with local groups to help save the Mark Fitzpatrick / Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve from being sold as a development plot.

The site – established and maintained by local residents Jeanne Pendrill and Terry Reynolds – has been used by local children and community groups for nearly 30 years. It became an Asset of Community Value after an application was made by committee member, Jessica Jacobs.

“The Mortimer Terrace Nature Reserve holds a symbolic and spiritual significance associated with appreciating and nurturing inner city natural environments.” explains Jacobs. “The reserve also plays a vital role in preserving the incredible diversity of wildlife in Camden, as well as forging community links and networks and providing a safe space for environmental education for our next generation of Camden citizens.”

Historically,  the land was reserved as a buffer between Victorian housing on Gordon House Road and the railway and designed to contain trees that protected the community from pollution caused by rail transport. It was saved from development in 1987 when building contractors Mark Fitzpatrick agreed to sign a 10 year lease allowing the local community to create a vital nature reserve and biodiversity corridor.

Over the years the site has been used by school groups from across Camden while at the time of closure last month it was being visited on a weekly basis by children from Gospel Oak Primary school.

Reception teacher, Nicola Rowell described how much she enjoyed bringing children to the site, ” I loved it there, it provided a unique setting for the children and a safe arena for interacting with the environment”.

Jeanne, Terry and Jo Mould of the London Wildlife Trust, met with the current owners last week to request access to help maintain the land while its future is undecided but access was denied by the owners citing legal and insurance issues.

Update 23/10/2015 Jeanne and Terry believe they will be granted access to the site in order to help maintain the reserve. If access is allowed they will act to resume school visits via the gate at Heathview.

 

 

100 communities vote to adopt Neighbourhood Plans

A milestone for Localism wasPutting power back into the hands of the community reached this week when over 100 communities across the UK voted to take over development and planning powers in their local areas by adopting neighbourhood plans.

“Neighbourhood planning puts power back into the hands of people, instead of elected representatives, and gives them collective clout to really shape where they live for the benefit of the people who live there.” Tony Armstrong, chief executive Locality

Neighbourhood plans were introduced in the 2011 Localism Act, providing communities with the opportunity to have their say on how their local area develops.

Locality said it had so far supported over 1,000 communities to develop neighbourhood plans, with the help of £6.7 million in government grants so far.

The DPNF committee are currently editing the policy report for Dartmouth Park that has been compiled following a 2 years consultation period. The document is due for publication at the start of 2016.

Kentish Town to Kenwood by AY Architects

A project by AY Architects, exploring ideas for a new public landscape in the heart of Kentish Town.

A project by AY Architects, exploring ideas for a new public landscape in the heart of Kentish Town.

AY Architects’ concept for a new public landscape that will link the heart of Kentish Town to the Heath via a green corridor is now featured on their website.

‘Key to our proposal is the creation of a large town square, extending over the railway opposite Kentish Town Station. The new square will enjoy long views and much-loved panoramic scenes of sunsets and moonrises to the north-west. It will become a meeting place, a destination.’   

Yeoryia Manolopoulou, AY Architects

In the scheme, visitors will be encouraged to walk from the square through a series of interlinked paths and community spaces that run along the railway, past the Kentish Town City Farm and onto Parliament Fields at Gospel Oak. Cycle routes and pedestrian bridges are proposed to link Regis Road and the Murphy site – creating quality open air spaces and community amenities.

The scheme imagines future development on the Murphy site and proposes ‘sustainable strategies’ that will protect the biodiversity of the area by the expansion of green corridors. Low output smart urban lighting, powered by solar and kinetic energy are also featured.

The project is supported by members of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum and was presented at the DPNF AGM in June.

A more detailed description can be found here : ‘Kentish to Kenwood’

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