Play spaces in Lewisham which have been closed since lockdown began are set to reopen today (September 30) after a local campaign.  

Although many playgrounds reopened as lockdown eased, some Lewisham Homes’ play spaces have remained locked.

But after a newly-formed campaign group from the Evelyn ward pushed for their reopening, Lewisham Homes said children will have access from today. 

The call was part of new campaign Play Evelyn, led by six women, including a Lewisham mayoress and the chair of DeptfordFolk, to improve play facilities for children across the ward. 

In a letter to the mayor of Lewisham and the CEO of Lewisham Homes, the group said residents were told to “have patience”.  

“And, yet, we have already waited for years.  

“Whilst we believe opportunities to play, stay healthy and improve physical fitness are applicable to all members of the community, our focus will be on improving existing provision for children.  

“Children in the Evelyn Ward have long experienced poor access to quality play opportunities in their local area.  

“This has had an impact on their physical and mental wellbeing and continues to do so.  

“Children have grown up with inadequate investment in playgrounds.  

“Evelyn ward has the highest deprivation rates in the borough and a considerable amount of funding from developers remains unspent. This is unexplainable,” they wrote.  

A spokesperson for Lewisham Homes confirmed the reopening and said the fencing company it uses has faced staffing and storage problems and “let us down”. 

“As restrictions eased we gradually reopened the facilities, with lockable play areas all reopened before the August bank-holiday.  

“Where temporary fencing was installed, it has taken longer that we had programmed to collect it.  

“Our fencing contractor has been facing staffing and storage problems and let us down on this occasion. 

“We therefore allocated the task to our own workforce and expect the remaining closed play areas to be open by September 30,” he said.

A spokesperson for the campaign group said they were “thankful to Lewisham Homes CEO Margaret Dodwell for listening and taking action”.  

“The Play Evelyn group’s next step is to build on the successful outcome of this initial campaign to secure urgent investment in all play spaces across the Evelyn Ward.  

“We know the funding is available from S106 and CIL already collected from developers by the council.  

“This funding is intended to mitigate the impact of developments on local communities. We look forward to working with the council to achieve this aim.” 

Lewisham Council has more than £200,000 of unspent S106 funding for play and open spaces for the Evelyn ward.  

A spokesperson for the council is expected to respond soon.  

Members of the Play Evelyn group include Dawn Atkinson, mayoress of Lewisham and Evelyn Community Store Committee Secretary, Marianna Femia, Moira Kerrane, from Evelyn Parents Forum, Trina Lynskey, DeptfordFolk chair and London greenspace commissioner, and Sue Smyth, chair of governors of Deptford Park Primary School.