This afternoon, the Friends of Mountsfield Park have released a Statement prior to tonight’s meeting with Lewisham Council Project Managers and Councillors.
As things stand now:
- The Council will not be providing a new cafe building due to rising building costs and landscaping tenders coming in at twice the allocated budget.
- One piece of playground equipment will be replaced and some remedial improvements made to parts of the flooring.
- An area will be landscaped for imaginative and natural play.
This is despite their own Consultants producing reports demonstrating that that 80% of local people want a new cafe and there being £455k of funding being available.
We are looking forward to a robust and fruitful meeting with the Council this evening at the Civic Suite at 7pm and hope that many of you can come despite the short notice. Below is a summary of the position FOMPs spokesperson Gareth is going to put across in the meeting to show our collective view. We have compiled this based on the outcome of last Sunday’s meeting and other discussions. Hopefully we can persuade the Council to share our level of ambition and to commit to pushing ahead with all three elements of the project.
Whilst details may be convoluted, the fundamental issue is straightforward: the redevelopment of Mountsfield Park should not proceed as currently planned.
In considering the inadequate funds WE take the stance that it is the funding that should be altered to match what we deem right for the park and not the plans that should be altered to match the funding. FOMP asks that WE be allowed the time to make this possible.
Removing the cafe element from the plans, using the money for the community gardens and playground improvements only, with surplus going towards for incremental improvements to the cafe area, only serves to produce a ‘something’s better than nothing’ result. Given the overwhelming support for a cafe, we cannot accept any approach that abandons the cafe before wider options for its delivery have been considered.
We are also convinced that the refurbishment of the playground, based on retaining the existing equipment, will NOT have the transformative impact it would need in order to influence the viability of a future cafe. For the playground to be a ‘game changer’ it will need to be much more impressive.
So, the Friends suggest this approach:
- WE agree that the community garden should move forward now.
- WE do not want the use of Pocket Parks funding to dictate the timing of the whole project, however. That would be the tail wagging the dog.
- FOMP wants £100,000 (or there a bouts) to be allocated to the playground to assist with it’s match funding bids. In being more ambitious for the playground area FOMP has formed a dedicated committee, to develop its vision, this sub-group wants to work with the Council in building on the current funds to deliver it.
- WE want all remaining monies to be directed at the cafe and for other options for its delivery to be explored. The committee working on cafe plans hope the Council will remain open to returning to the drawing board despite the costs redesign will incur.
- FOMP has thought hard about this. WE have held meetings, spoken to suppliers, sought advice from other Councils and cafe operators – In conclusion, WE choose not simply to settle for second-rate improvements and inadequate provision, but to be more ambitious for both the playground area and in achieving the cafe.
- We already have some ideas about what the cafe could be and how the new playground might come together. What we are asking for is the time to work these through before a final decision is taken on spending the money.
- This opportunity for betterment of Mountsfield Park is likely the only one for a generation, maybe two. Getting it wrong now will have a devastating effect on what is otherwise a beautiful park amidst a thriving community. FOMP comprises a strong, intelligent, passionate group and WE vote for taking longer over progress and returning to the drawing board when necessary in order that, together with the Council, WE ensure the decisions made now at the right ones.
Friends of Mountsfield Park