Category Archives: Parks

Ruskin Park News

Urgently looking for financial talent

The Friends of Ruskin Park are an outstanding local charity and play a vital role in keeping the park a vibrant and much treasured asset. In recent months their highly valued Treasurer very sadly died and they are desperately looking for someone to replace him. Obviously with any charity, particularly this one, it’s a vital role. They are struggling now with governance/finance know-how to meet their minimum commitments as an entirely volunteer run charity.

They are looking for a person with some accountancy experience, maybe with charities, and who is a supporter of what they do for Ruskin Park. This is an important and rewarding voluntary contribution to our local community and it will need regular commitment.

On top of that, the committee’s vice-chair has also stepped down recently for health reasons. That’s another post that needs to be filled as soon as possible.

If you are able and willing to help, or know anyone else who might, please contact the Chair, Lucy Hadfield.

It’s the nearly concert season in Ruskin Park

When summer and sunny days return (they will, won’t they?), the bandstand in Ruskin Park fulfils its purpose as a showcase for musical entertainment on Sunday afternoons.

The first concert is on 4th July (3:00 – 5:00 PM), with an appearance by The Sonnet Wind Orchestra – a musically exciting ensemble numbering some 35 players. Mostly retired professional musicians playing an extensive and eclectic repertoire from arrangements of classical favourites, via selections from stage and screen, to the Beatles, Bowie and Queen. Many of these arrangements are by members of the SWO.

More concerts follow, right until the middle of October. The summer programme can be found on the Friends of Ruskin Park website.

 

Discarded needles/syringes in Brockwell Park

We understand via the Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel that a frighteningly large quantities of discarded needles/syringes are strewn about in Brockwell Park, according to local residents with children that play in there.

They are mostly concentrated within the bushes, where children naturally like to run about in and play. To describe the quantities as ‘scores’ is no exaggeration, we hear.

Our Police Community Support Officers do excellent and effective work in knife and weapon searches, often finding needles etc., but the police are not caretakers and cleaners. Dealing with the needles is a specialised job with Health and Safety implications and the Council, with financial support from central government, possibly via the Mayor’s Office, to make this possible, needs to address this issue. People are recalling a case in 1992 when a 7-year-old found such a needle having unknowingly pricked herself on it. Fortunately, hospital tests gave her full clearance but it could so easily have been a different outcome.

The relevant local councillors in Lambeth have been made aware of this situation, but any parents with children likely to visit the park should perhaps be conscious of the risk and keep an eye on where the children are venturing.

Reminder – Fast approaching deadline

We can still comment on Lambeth’s application for a performance/food/drink pop-up on and around the Ruskin Park bandstand this summer.  But Wednesday 10 March is the cut-off date.

 

The performances and other events would happen 5 days a week including evenings and weekends all through spring to autumn (29 April – 12 September 2021), presumably blocking off the long-established summer weekend concerts traditionally organised by the Friends of Ruskin Park (FoRP).

The Friends’ explanation and comments can be read on their website here.  Others might think, on the contrary, that this is all a wonderful idea.

We can give feedback to Events Lambeth by Wednesday 10 March 2021.

Why bother?

There’s a natural tendency in Lambeth Council (as in others, probably) to assume that “no comment”/silence =  either approval or indifference.

So if we feel something is wrong (or right!) it could make sense to take five minutes to feed back our comments. Lord knows, it doesn’t always make a difference but if we stay silent when things we don’t approve of look like happening, we can’t really complain afterwards if they do. End of homily.

 

Calling all Ruskin Park fans

Friends of Ruskin Park (FofRP) have released information about a series of events  –  The Open Arms  –  that Lambeth are proposing to host in Ruskin Park across the summer. The events, and supporting installations, would mainly happen around the Bandstand.

Sounds fun, maybe – but as the FofRP comment, “This is too much time for one organisation to be effectively taking over the popular bandstand area. It is more like a concession, not an event.”

The proposal  – ‘pop-up’ or concession?

Lambeth’s proposal explains that  “The Open Arms is a performance-led pop-up occupying Ruskin Park Bandstand (ideally) for summer 2021. As a recipient of the Arts Council England’s ‘Culture Recovery Grant’, they will be looking to bring to life an activation that celebrates and supports the rich pool of talent living within the borough. They will provide a stage for local performance in the midst of rapid venue closures. Alongside a Food and beverage offer.”

Full details of the proposal are in a PDF accessed via the FoRP website

FofRP initial comments

The Friends of Ruskin Park committee has already raised some initial points with Event Lambeth.

They are not opposed in principle to appropriate new ventures for entertainment and refreshments that benefit Ruskin Park and local people.

However, they have several concerns:

  • that this is too much time for one organisation to be effectively taking over the popular bandstand area. It is more like a concession, not an event.
  • about the installation of two semi-permanent pavilions and toilet structures in the area surrounding the bandstand and their impact on the landscape.
  • about the size of the event levy and what would actually be spent on Ruskin Park.
  • about risks of noise and size of audience.
  • about the overall balance of these facilities, as proposed, with the calm and natural character of the park.
  • that this is an untested format so there should be monitoring and revision stages during the 5 month contract.
  • that the business model of the organiser should be transparent and the assets of the public park are properly valued in any such transaction.

Feedback and deadline

Anyone  –  and particularly, perhaps, those of us who  live nearby and use Ruskin Park  –   may lodge comments with Lambeth.

Please visit The Friend’s excellent web page for further information and advice on opportunities for public comments to Lambeth by the consultation deadline of 10th March.

 

New Lives for Fallen Branches

Yes, Brockwell Park is bigger and offers perhaps more scenic variety, but Ruskin Park is closer. Those of us who live in this quarter of Herne Hill are doubly blessed.

But Ruskin Park has one (so far) unique detail. The massive fallen branch of the Turkey Oak which looms at the bottom corner of the park near Finsen Road has been granted a new life by the Friends of Ruskin Park, who engaged the artist Morganico to work on it, producing a wealth of carved three-dimensional designs – a whale, squirrel, acorns, oak leaves and even a seat and a recess for your coffee cup (though of course we are not supposed to sit down anywhere in public parks at the moment). Children love it, everyone stops to admire it.

Carved oak branch: detail

You can read a full article about this project, which also features the artist, in the next issue of Herne Hill magazine hopefully out next month. Covid permitting, those joining the Herne Hill Society now (a mere £10) will be sure of getting a copy delivered to them.

Meanwhile the Brockwell Park urban forest are not far behind.

They too have a great and ancient oak tree, albeit of a different species, which has also lost a significant branch. There are now plans to make that branch, too, come alive with carvings by the same artist – all subject to a host of necessary permissions and approvals of course. Undoubtedly some money is needed.

Brockwell’s Oak and fallen branch

When complete, this new carved bench will be dedicated to all those we have lost during the pandemic & work towards improving mental health for the local community and all visitors to the park.

There is now a funding campaign to help this project along, which can be seen at  GoFundMe.

 

Festivals in Brockwell Park, Summer 2021 – here we go again

Lambeth Council’s plans to allow music festivals again in Brockwell Park are already well advanced, all subject of course to Covid-19.

At this stage,we have until 8 December to make our views known to Councillors (see below).

Published documents envisage a Summer Event Series 2021 with up to six Large / Major event days taking place over two consecutive weekends, with medium/ small community event days taking place in the weekdays between.

The Great Wall of Brockwell

Final decisions will supposedly be made next spring. But the council has naturally been in discussion with the operators already, and appears disposed to grant permission. So, pandemic permitting, the park will again hold a major event organised by Mighty Hoopla plus other events.

Areas blocked off for weeks

The occupation of major parts of the park area would start on Wednesday 26 May (when the contractors begin the build) lasting until Sunday 20 June 2021 when the derig ends. Allow several more weeks for repairing  the damage done to the ground and fixtures of the park.

Quite a lot of people

On ‘Major Event Days’, planning will be in place to accommodate 25,000 on site each day. On ‘Large Event Days’ (mid-week community days), planning will be in place to accommodate up to 10,000 on site.

The detailed timetable, and other details, are in a densely worded Lambeth document: see  Brockwell Park 2021 summer events

Divisive?

As in previous years, the prospect of such events provokes controversy.

Some people are content to see the park used in ways that brings fun to mainly young people, and some financial benefit to the council and some local businesses. Others are bitterly opposed to offering this public amenity to what are, in effect, fiercely commercial operators whose events can damage the park, create massive noise disturbance, disrupt local streets and prevent local people and visitors having access to and enjoyment of many areas of the Park .

According to a recent Brixton Buzz article, The Friends of Brockwell Park, in particular, are leading the outcry and inviting people to protest to our Councillors by 8 December. We can also send comments direct to Lambeth via events@lambeth.gov.uk

Events have damaged the park

Our Herne Hill Ward Lambeth Councillors’ contact details are as follows:

Cllr Jim Dickson (Labour Party)           jdickson@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Pauline George (Labour Party)     pgeorge@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Becca Thackray (Green Party)      BThackray@lambeth.gov.uk

The Park in normal times

‘Local History in Lock-down’ talks – first one this evening

The small but excellent team at Lambeth Archives have announced a series of on-line talks delivered live via Zoom.

The first one is happening this evening when Jon Newman, one of the two Archives Managers, will talk about “Why Parks Matter”.  Scroll down for log-in details.

Jon is a first-rate speaker, writer and historian. He will be telling the story of local campaigns in the 19th century to preserve common lands and to create public parks.

 

 

We must all be grateful for the pioneering work of those socially aware and determined campaigners, now that in our crowded city parks and open spaces are even more vital.

Ruskin Park April 2020

Log-in details, as given by Lambeth Archives

Log in tonight, Thursday 16th April at 18.45, by clicking on this link.

Meeting ID: 919 3951 6549. Password: 031172

Otherwise, and perhaps to get a more robust link, email archives@lambeth.gov.uk  now for login details

You do not have to have a Zoom account to join these talks. You will be prompted to download the software once you have clicked on the above link. You can also create an account, but it is not essential. If you are a first-time Zoom user, please allow yourself time to do this before the talk starts.

Onslaught on the twin towers

Plans for the twin tower development proposed for Loughborough Junction, featured in our last post, have been comprehensively rubbished in a formal objection now tabled on behalf of the Herne Hill Society.

The main thrust of the Society’s objection is that a decision to allow the proposed development would go against the Lambeth Plan for new developments, as well as the London Plan and indeed the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework.

This sounds academic, but demonstrating how the proposal is fundamentally inconsistent with the Council’s own planning guidelines makes it very difficult for the Lambeth planners to give it the green light – though of course there’s no guarantee that they won’t find a way to wriggle out of this.

The draft new Lambeth Plan lays down many requirements that new developments must respect, including the principle that the design of a new development must be a response to the good aspects of the local context and historic character in many detailed ways.

The proposal flouts Lambeth’s own standards

As the Society’s magisterial demolition of the proposal states, the architects have signally failed to meet these policy criteria. “Two towers rising to 29 and 20 stories are not a positive or contextual response to the character of the area. On the contrary, they are wilfully antagonistic to the character, creating densely congested structures with an overbearing presence out of any reasonable scale with neighbouring buildings.”

They go on to say: “The rationale of the designs stems solely from the maximisation of housing capacity on a small site, not from any response to local context.”

Rules for tall buildings

There is more. They note that the London Plan and the Lambeth Plan emphasise that tall buildings require excellent design and should be of “exemplary standard”. But as the Society points out, “the towers stand out for their gross incongruity in the local context not for any outstanding design quality or distinct architectural expression.”

They also flag up the proposed towers’ harmful effect on heritage assets, particularly views from Ruskin Park and Brockwell Park where what is proposed is a “markedly intrusive, permanent alteration to views from the park, one that makes no positive contribution to the park and its local context.”

The proposal’s airily dismissed references to potential bottlenecks in public transport (mentioned in our last post) are also painfully exposed and politely savaged in the Society’s response.

There is more: it’s well worth a read, and shows the importance of having a strong local Society, supported by experts who know their stuff. The upshot is that their demolition of the tower development proposal,  while elegantly written, is comprehensive and enough to make its architects blush. (Don’t count on it.)

Read it all

The full text of the Objection can be read in a PDF found via a new page on the Herne Hill Society’s website, through this link.