Green areas of Dukes Meadows being turned into a car park

Dukes Meadows Trust dismayed at council plans to spend £400, 000 to turn green areas of Dukes Meadows into a car park

Last week Dukes Meadows Trust learned that there is a single member decision tabled for next week to sign off £400,000 to implement a car parking scheme for Dukes Meadows. The plans include hard surfacing and installing knee rail along the green verge on the Promenade, against the council’s own policies and policies to protect the river environment such as the Mayor of London’s Blue Ribbon Network.

The council’s consultation for Dukes Meadows, attached, promised better cycle and pedestrian access, but none will be delivered within the £400k of spend, nor are there any traffic speed control measures proposed. It was known that a large amount of new car parking would be created to support the proposed sports development on the upstream side of the Meadows, but there was no suggestion in the consultation that informal areas of the park on the downstream side would also be given over to parking to support sporting events, in fact public realm “improvements” were promised.

Photographs: the area to be fenced and hard surfaced, as it currently is and what it will look like after.

The plans announced, shown on page 39 of the report, include two coach turning circles in the bays behind the band stand. they were not mentioned in the original consultation and the Trust is at a loss to know why they are needed and why the council thinks it is a good idea to encourage diesel fume, belching coaches into an area used for walking and jogging and by families for picnics.

The Meadows is, sadly, currently unsafe and unpleasant for cyclists and pedestrians. These plans are likely to make the situation worse, with more cars and coaches encouraged to park up right on the river Promenade.

It is distressing to see so much money being spent on such regressive and destructive plans. They are a 1970s throwback, a homage to car use in complete disregard for the environment. The council has completely failed to balance the rights of those who use Dukes Meadows for formal sports and people for whom Dukes Meadows is a pleasant, green open space that they want to use for walking, taking their children to play and enjoying a natural environment.

We hope that the council will reconsider and talk to all users of the Meadows, not just sports clubs and people driving to events, to invest the £400k in a way that is fair to all.

Kathleen Healy MBE is the Development Manager of Dukes Meadows Trust, which runs the park with the children’s paddling pool and adventure playground and the Sunday Food market which supports the park financially.

Featured image photograph – Allotments at Dukes Meadows. Photograph by Roz Wallis