Lewisham Council is planning to refuse planning permission for developments if they are damaging to parks and open spaces, according to a new five-year plan.  

Mayor and cabinet approved its parks and open spaces strategy 2020-2025 on Wednesday (June 10), which has a vision “to be the heart and lungs for Lewisham, connecting active, healthy, and vibrant communities”.  

Presenting the report, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Sophie McGeevor, said: “Our parks and open spaces have never been so important”.

The plan focuses on areas that fall within the parks team’s responsibility.  

“This includes publicly owned parks and gardens, council-owned allotments, ‘maintained’ churchyards, and numerous highway enclosures,” according to the strategy, which identifies nearly 350 spaces across the borough. 

The council is aiming to inject £1 million of extra facilities and improvements to parks and open spaces over the five years via the ‘Greening Fund’, which is funded by developers under S106 agreements. 

The strategy lists 35 green spaces that are classified as “fair” or “poor” that it intends to invest in, including Durham Hill, Southend Park, Forster Memorial Park, Riverview Walk, Folkestone Gardens, Home Park, Lewisham Park, Blythe Hill Fields, Riverdale Sculpture Park, Lewisham Way, Hatcham Gardens, Ferranti Park, Friendly Gardens, Luxmore Gardens, Broadway Fields, Evelyn Green, Baxter’s Field, Ravensbourne Park Gardens, Edith Nesbitt Gardens, Eckington Gardens, Margaret McMillan Park, Sayes Court Park, Lewisham War Memorial Gardens, the Common and Summerhouse Field, Deptford Memorial Gardens, Westbourne Drive Enclosure, Grove Park Library Gardens, Ladywell Green/Slagrove Place, Wickham Gardens, Beachborough Gardens, Beaulieu Avenue Green, Kirkdale Green, St Norbert Green, Turnham Road Green, and Culverley Green. 

The strategy is divided into three themes based on public consultation responses – social, economic, and, environmental – and lists the priorities and goals of those themes.  

It also sets out a delivery plan to achieve its goals.  

Strategic social aims  

Social priorities include preserving and increasing the number of Green Flag Awards, improving the safety and cleanliness of parks, and investing in rundown spaces.  

Goals include working with ‘friends’ groups and other local groups, developing a parks events strategy, encouraging walking and cycling, improving nature conservation in parks, consulting with young people, seeking advice from the new disabled people’s commission, and tackling antisocial behaviour. 

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Strategic economic aims  

Priorities for the strategic economic aims include protecting parks and open spaces from large developments in the borough. 

The council plans to refuse planning permission for all “insensitive development, on site or on surrounding land that significantly erodes the biodiversity value, quality, use, access or enjoyment of designated green and open spaces”. 

It aims to work with Highways colleagues on ‘Cycleways,’ ‘Legible London’ and ‘Healthy Neighbourhood’ transport programmes, “to promote ‘pathways to parks’ and ‘greening the grey’ by developing sustainable travel links that use planting and greening as a tool to reduce carbon emissions”.  

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Strategic environmental aims  

Environmental priorities include managing spaces sustainably and recycling wherever practical, looking into reducing the use of herbicides, planting more trees, and reducing carbon emissions by using electric machinery as much as possible.  

The council’s goals include encouraging recycling, composting green waste in the park it was collected, and stopping ice cream vans idling.  

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Delivery plan 

The delivery plan sets out how the council will achieve its goals and priorities and by when it aims to do so.  

The social delivery plan includes keeping an up to date website for all ‘friends’ groups, communications training, developing a parks events strategy by March 2023, installing new table tennis tables and outdoor gym equipment, and adding new bike locking points, new signs and way-finding posts, new benches, bins, and water fountains to parks through the Greening Fund.  

It also includes holding 52 nature gym sessions, creating 10 forest schools, and increasing the number of licensed bootcamps and community events in parks.  

The council plans to develop a database of antisocial behaviour patterns to tackle the problem, while addressing all reported issues within 10 days.  

The delivery plan for economic aims involves refusing planning applications that could significantly erode the biodiversity and quality of green spaces, and aims to have “no net loss” of space by 2025.  

The council also aims to win 15 Green Flag Awards by July 2022, and 17 by July 2025.  

By April 2021 it wants to have in place three ‘healthy neighbourhoods’ and two per year following that, while also adding six cycleways by April 2022.  

The delivery plan for environmental aims includes creating interactive maps that show park features and facilities, putting signs on new bins to encourage recycling, and monitioring and reducing green waste disposed of offsite. 

To stop ice cream vans idling, the council plans to install electric points in parks and monitoring the amount of licences given out.