Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Problems at the Manor

Back in April I reported on the destruction of the mature Hawthorne wood in Manor Park in New Malden and generally concluded that it was very unlikely to become developed commercial property and that as it was privately owned, a community garden or allotments wasn’t a bad thing to have there.

However the Environment trust, who have been working very hard in a bid to obtain an elusive ‘Green Flag’ for the park are very unimpressed with the situation there. They have written on their blog that, “Sadly, the park has been blighted by the insensitive actions of a private landowner. With total disregard for the integrity, wildlife value or aesthetics of the park, the landowner has uprooted  and burnt trees. As such, it is hard to see how any Green Flag judge in their right mind could give a favourable review of the park in its current state, despite the hard work of Quadron and the Kingston Greenspace Volunteers. A key concern is the proximity of the area to the pond which is a wildlife haven. The creation of the allotments may alter the hydrology of the area, and if pesticides are used on the allotments this could decimate the amphibians who call the area home.”

They are thankful that the section of the woodland that is still part of the park is thriving but are urging all concerned local residents to contact their local councillors regarding this matter. The three councillors whose ward the park is in (St James Ward) are:

  • Cllr. Howard Jones (howard.jones@councillors.kingston.gov.uk )
  • Cllr. Priyen Patel (priyen.patel@councillors.kingston.gov.uk )
  • Cllr. Ken Smith (Ken.Smith@councillors.kingston.gov.uk )

People seem to be understandably concerned that all is not what is seems to be. I did ask the owners of the land (via a council officer) to contact me back in April but they failed to do so. A concerned reader commented last time that, “as long ago as October last year [they] had a load of rubble and other rubbish dumped on the site, the truck delivering it just smashing through the little wooden fence. The council had no idea this had happened when I got in touch and when questioned, the owner said it was hardcore for a path! A few weeks ago some men started clearing the site but no one has been back since then. There is still a considerable amount of tree stumps and other vegetation to be cleared before anything resembling a community garden can be set out.”

She has set up a meeting with two Kingston councillors on Monday 10th June where she will be joined by Gerrard Eccles from the Environment Trust. She has promised to keep the blog updated with the outcome.

The thing that continues to puzzle me is 'What do the land owners have to gain from turning the land into a community garden or allotments? And if they are genuinely altruistic (which may indeed be the case) why would they ignore my request to speak to them? What else might be in store if this is not actually the case?'

Update (6th July)

If you are near Manor Park today, look out for a lady gathering signatures on a petition asking Kingston Council to get more on the case. Cllr David Fraser will also be asking people to sign at his surgery at the
library today.