OPEN SPACES SOCIETY
OPEN SPACES SOCIETY CALLS FOR FULL REINSTATEMENT OF BATTERSEA PARK AFTER FORMULA E MOTOR RACE
The Open Spaces Society(1) has called on Wandsworth Council to ensure that Battersea Park is fully reinstated following the Formula E motor race in July. The society is backing the Battersea Park Action Group and others in objecting to Formula E’s planning application which fails to achieve full restoration of the park.
The application is intended to confirm the permanent layout of the park following the event. Wandsworth Council promised full reinstatement in return for allowing the event to take place—although, as a result of court action, it will never occur in Battersea Park again.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘We are dismayed that Wandsworth Council is failing to enforce the full reinstatement of Battersea Park by Formula E. It seems that Formula E is willing to achieve this but the Council wishes to renege on its pledge made from day one. It does not propose to seek full reinstatement of grassed areas in the boules area, and the tarmac on the Rosery car park is to be extended, with loss of the grass buffer-zones which are important landscape features. In place of grass in a Grade II* listed park we are offered black tarmac. What sort of message is Wandsworth sending with such a proposal?
‘Battersea Park is of immense heritage value. The Heritage Lottery Fund wrote to the council in August describing the Rosery car park “as a huge expanse of black tarmac” and saying that it “is visually intrusive on the setting and therefore has a detrimental impact on the historic landscape”. It also considers the new hard surfacing on the boules area “to be highly visually intrusive”.’
Says Kate: ‘We deplore the continued abuse of this splendid park and have urged the council to ensure that it is fully reinstated in accordance with its promise.’
Notes for editors
1 The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.
TARMAC. The Boules of contention:
What goes on behind closed doors?
Formula E will not being returning to Battersea Park. But you will by now have realised that getting the Council to agree to Formula E’s promised reinstatement is not proving easy – as we knew would happen. There is a lot of discussion behind closed doors as to how best to retain all that lovely tarmac on the Boules area. Why? Just two words: TRAILER PARK, as anyone who has seen the Western Carriageway on several lengthy occasions since January will understand.
Our vociferous objection to the Council’s latest planning submission is here. Please read it.
Needless to say, our group (BATPAG – Battersea Park Action Group) has never been invited to any discussions, and apart from discussions with Heritage Lottery Fund and a brief nod to the Friends of Battersea Park, neither has anyone else.
Several people from Planning and WBC/Enable have been contacted, and the excuses and versions of events differ every time. This is the situation:
1. On 14th June Formula E submitted a written description and highly detailed and technical diagram of Battersea Park to the Council which outlined their proposed reinstatement.
These plans described the full reinstatement of the park, including the reinstatement of the Rosery car park and former boules area. The Council has failed to acknowledge these plans publicly, has failed to post them on the planning site regarding case file 2016/3064 and apparently does not consider them a valid submission as to Formula E’s intentions to discharge condition 10 (In May FE had declared their intention and desire to fully reinstate, in accordance with the conditions of their planning permission.).
2. The Council submitted proposals to the Heritage Lottery Fund seeking approval from the HLF. These plans outlined the Counci’s own proposals for reinstatement. These differed significantly from the plans submitted by Formula E in June and attempted to retain large amounts of tarmac within the park, including in the Rosary car park and the former boules area.
3. The Heritage Lottery Fund rejected these proposals and has asked the Council to rethink their plans, with the Council’s proposals for the Rosery car park and former boules area raising particular concerns with the HLF.
4. It is of concern that representatives of EnableLC appear to have been heavily involved in formulating these the Council’s proposals for the reinstatement of the park. Enable is the private company that manages the park and there is a clear conflict of interest as Enable will benefit directly in a commercial manner from any tarmac that is retained in the the boules area and Rosery car park park, by renting it out, not only to units filming in the park, to which in general there is no objection, but to those filming elsewhere in London. As things stand it appears the boules area will be returned to gravel, but that the Council are trying to retain a significant amount of extra tarmac in the Rosery car park, which currently resembles a sea of tarmac.
Questions that require answers: Battersea Park Action Group (John Fox)
The Council through Enable are seeking to change this Grade II* listed park and appear to think they can do this as part and parcel of the Formula E planning application. We have questioned the planners and challenged them to justify this asking the following questions. What appears to be happening are significant changes to the park by the back door.
- Is planning application 2016/3064 a valid way for Formula E as the applicant to achieve permanent changes to a listed park? It appears to relate to a temporary
- If Formula E are not driving these changes but are reacting to the Council’s own requirements, how do you justify this being dealt with via this application? Should the Council not be the ones now making a new application rather than it being done in Formula E’s name?
- Condition 10 of planning consent 2015/7363 and your statement make quite clear that this refers to full reinstatement. How do you as a planning officer justify stepping away from this requirement without a new planning application and listed application and full and proper separate consultation having to be made?
- How also have the planning department validated application 2016/3064? In particular you appear now to be entertaining full discharge of condition 10 as stated in the application. How can this be contemplated if no final reinstatement proposals have been submitted by the applicant? As a member of the public if I submitted an application to discharge a condition without any detail applying to a listed structure such as this it would quite rightly be rejected.
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND
Many of you have written to the Heritage Lottery Fund voicing your concerns about what is happening, and many of you have sent me copies. HLF have shown Jan a copy of their August 22nd letter to the Council, and I quote just part of it, from which it is clear that HLF is on our side.
“As you are aware there has been considerable local interest in the reinstatement proposals for Battersea Park and our expectation has always been that the park will be returned to its condition prior to hosting the Formula E event. We are aware that any changes will be further scrutinised.”
“All plans to reinstate the park back to its original condition prior to any physical alterations made in order to stage the event are to be welcomed. I will therefore limit comments to only where changes and modifications to the original condition are proposed. I understand there are some areas where changes are considered to be betterment and will address each of these in turn. “
“Area 1 – Pierpoint (junction of North Carriage Drive and East Carriage Drive)
The importance of this area is the meeting of North and East Carriage Drive. This should be continuous flow without any interruption. I therefore suggest the proposed build outs are too extreme and would suggest you revisit the plans for this area to allow a better curve for the merging of north and east carriage drives. HLF welcomes the removal of the mini roundabout and reinstatement of the gravel path (beside the kiosk) as this will put back the original alignment to the existing path ways.”
“Area 5 – Rosary car park
The resurfaced car park is now a huge expanse of black tarmac. Whilst I appreciate the new surface may be better for park visitors arriving by car, it is visually intrusive on the setting and therefore has a detrimental impact on the historic landscape. HLF does not support its retention in its current form and expect the council to explore options to soften its appearance. One option to consider would be to surface dress the tarmac in a material that was much more sympathetic and in keeping with the heritage style that exists in Battersea Park. We believe that the car park if surface dressed in a lighter colour material, would better allow the car park to blend into the parkland setting. “
“Area 7 – Former Boules Area
The new resurfaced area of raised black tarmac between the two hogging strips strongly competes with the adjacent carriage drive. HLF considers this new area of hard surfacing to be highly visually intrusive and would not support it being retained even if surfaced in a less intrusive colour. HLF would seek its removal and request the council explore alternative surface options. “
“Area 9 – Albert Gate Junction North & West Drives
The alteration and re-alignment of the kerb stones for the curve is now unsatisfactory; although as in other areas, I appreciate the adjustment is better suited for traffic flow, but HLF expect to see a re-alignment of kerbs to create a smoother radius.”
“The changes we’re requesting reflect better the Heritage Impact Assessment and align with commitments made by the Council to us in returning the Park back to its post award condition. (My highlight) “
“We are, as you might expect, also receiving correspondence from the public in relation to any changes that may occur now that Formula E has ceased. Please be aware that in replying to such correspondence we will be clear in our views, as set out in this letter. … I look forward to receiving more information once you have considered options for both Rosary car park and the former Boules area. “
Note: Unfortunately, HLF does not manage or own the Park, but we hope that they will add to the pressure. It could be extremely embarrassing for the Council/Enable if they were to ignore such a generous donor.
(Remember this one, from October 16 Newsletter, 2015?) Now read on.
We are still not sure which path the Council will try and take with regard to the tarmac, as a Planning Application? Treat it as a fulfilment of Condition 10 and just push it through? Not if we and our solicitors have anything to do with it. They continue to deny that they received anything from FE, but confirmation of document submission has been received by us from Formula E’s legal department. The Labour and Independent councillors will certainly support us, so if you feel like tackling any Tory Councillors, please do go and make their day in their weekly surgeries. Their names will still be on our website, and include: Tessa Strickland, Rory O’Broin, Melanie Hampton (St Mary’s Park); Nicola Nardelli and Marie Hanson (Queenstown), and if you are feeling particularly calm, Guy Senior and Jonathan Cook (Shaftesbury). Overview and Scrutiny Committee Members are italicised. Other O & SC members are Cllrs. Hart, Torrington, Lescott, Usher and Walsh. Remember them? I bet you do. Planning Applications Committe Tory members are: Cllrs. Walsh, Ryde, Dodd, Sweet, McCausland, Heaster, Humphries and Sarah McDermott. Oh, and one last thing – we noticed that each year there was a sacrificial lamb, a lone Tory who voted against, presumably to show that the members were not whipped. Martin Johnson changed his mind the next time round, and voted pro-FE, even after the awful outcome, so should we assume that Marie Hanson is another such lamb?
PROTECT OUR GREEN SPACES
For those of you who signed the 38 Degrees petition and also made submissions to the Parliamentary Select Committee, here is a chance to read a very brief summary from 38 Degrees. The result of the Select Committee has yet to be published.
That’s probably enough of the deep thought information for the time being. We and our solicitor are on the case, and will keep you updated.
We are proud to tell you that Jamie Jackson, whose name was on the Judicial Review application, has just published his latest novel. Campaigners may find it particularly apt that it is entitled “Treason” and described as “the gripping Gunpowder Plot thriller.”
Click here for more details:
In a week or so, Jamie will be appearing on LBC with James O’Brien, when he will be talking about the latest developments in the Park. We shall let you know more as soon as we have a date and time. No doubt Cllr. Pantson-Fyre will also make an appearance. He has been amazingly quiet lately, unless he is the anonymous “council spokesman” sometimes referred to in Council releases.
As another member said, when he sent me the news of Jamie’s latest book, “Don’t get any ideas”.
LOOKING FORWARD TO CHRISTMAS
(or any other excuse, really), then why not revisit TIM’S BATTERSEA PARK CAKE Tim says the recipe is really easy. In my view it would make a delicious Christmas gift, especially if packaged in crinkly cellophane and trimmed with a red ribbon.
3 medium eggs
150g ground almonds
100g sugar (add more if you have a very sweet tooth)
Zest and juice of ½ a lemon (or if you want it to be particularly Christmassy, a splash of rum, whisky or brandy)
100g dried dates roughly chopped 50g pine nuts
½ tsp of cinnamon (or nutmeg) Icing sugar to dust
Lightly whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add almonds, sugar, lemon juice and zest and stir mixture until the ingredients are well blended. Add cinnamon and dates and mix again so that dates are nicely coated with the mixture. Butter a shallow 10” round pie tin with a removable base. Pour mixture into tin, spread it evenly and then scatter pine nuts over the top.
Bake at 160C for 45 minutes. You can bake at 180C for less time but baking at 160C gives a more biscuit texture and ensures that the pine nuts do not burn. When you have achieved a rich golden colour remove from the oven and leave to cool. Remove from tin very gently and slide onto a large plate. If you have one a pizza plate is ideal. Dredge generously with icing sugar.
We still have a few remaining T-shirts which would make beautiful souvenirs, and could be personalised with fabric pens. Email me. Personal delivery. £10 each.
NOT A PRETTY SIGHT
Thanks to Jan Springer for the photos
Lastly: We promised you a social, but still have to come up with a date. We have not forgotten.
We have withdrawn our court action following an agreement being reached with Formula E. Please see the short jointly agreed statement below:-
A current action for Judicial Review is due to be heard in the High Court on 24/25 May between the claimant James Jackson and defendant Wandsworth Council with Formula E as an interested party. This action challenges the hosting of the Formula E Championship in Battersea Park.
James Jackson supported by the Battersea Park Action Group is pleased to now announce that a satisfactory agreement has been reached over the future use of Battersea Park. James Jackson will now withdraw his Judicial Review action with his costs to date being met. The Championship this year will go ahead but further consideration will be given to future years.
As required under the planning conditions for this year’s event, the park will be reinstated by Formula E to its original pre-March 2015 condition.
James Jackson feels that the settlement reached represents a favourable outcome for all parties involved given the preparations already in hand for this year’s races as well as the obligation to reinstate the park.
James Jackson said “I am delighted that a solution has been found; this is good for everyone.”