"Hush hush" proposals to put grazing cows in a popular park and golf course are complete and udder madness, users say.

The proposal to turn part of Beckenham Place Park, which lies between Downham and Beckenham, into 'parkland grazing' is one of four options put forward as part of a radical redesign being considered by Lewisham Council, which has responsibility for the space.

Controversially, the plan would do away with the park's famous golf course.

News Shopper: Udder madness? 'Secret' proposal to use Lewisham's largest park to graze cows

Another option under consideration is to reduce the course to only nine holes in a move originally mooted five years ago and then thrown out following opposition.

David Hansom from the Friends of Beckenham Place Park, who fought those plans, said: "If you look at all the pictures from the 18th century, they show the parkland was used for grazing animals which people could eat in big houses.

"But they can't really seriously consider that. The idea's ridiculous."

Mr Hansom, who is also chairman of the Braeside Golf Club, added: "The battle to save the golf course was pretty comprehensively won and I don't think they should go back on that."

News Shopper: Udder madness? 'Secret' proposal to use Lewisham's largest park to graze cows

He said: "The joy of Lewisham's parks is their diversity. Each one is different and the fear is that they're trying to make this like the rest and lose its character."

Judith Whitton, 63, of Burnt Ash Lane, regularly walks her dog Leah in the park - the borough's largest green space - and said an exhibition of the plans last month was kept under wraps.

She said: "They've kept it all hush hush but all these plans sound like pie in the sky to me.

"They should be more concerned with looking after it a bit better."

A spokesman for Lewisham Council said: "We at are the early stages of developing new proposals that will conserve and enhance Beckenham Place Park and its listed buildings, attract more people of all ages to visit the park and celebrate its cultural heritage and ecological importance.

"We have talked to a good cross-section of the local population to explore possible options, including current park users, community groups, sports groups, heritage and conservation organisations, local residents and school pupils.

"It is clear that any option for change would require huge investment and sources of investment on this scale for parks are limited. Following discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund we have decided to make an exploratory bid to see if we could secure funding from their Parks for People programme to develop more detailed proposals. 

"We expect to hear the result of that bid in June. If we are successful then we would hold a public consultation about the mix of activities that we might seek to include in the park in the future."

Options under consideration

1. The 18-hole golf course is kept. Golf club moved from the mansion to the Homestead. New fitness trails, tracks and shared paths.

2. Golf course downgraded to nine holes with practice area.

3. New par 3 golf course for families and casual golfers. Original lake recreated. An events space.

4. No golf. Restoring the landscape to its 18th century design. Recreate original lake. Parkland grazing.