Grove Park residents are going to the polls today (August 26) to vote on plans for a new park on fields which inspired a famous children's book.

The Grove Park Neighbourhood Plan, drafted by a volunteer-led group, includes proposals for a seven-hectare park on green space frequented by Edith Nesbitt, who wrote The Railway Children.

The 1906 novel, which tells the story of a mother and her children who move to the Yorkshire countryside after their father is falsely imprisoned, became a film in 1970 and is set to return to cinemas in April 2022.

Residents are having their say on Neighbourhood Plan, which campaigners say sets out a “positive vision” for sustainable, green development in the area. 

News Shopper: A still from the 1970 film versionA still from the 1970 film version

A spokesperson Grove Park Neighbourhood forum said: “Our neighbourhood plan sets out a positive vision and policies to ensure our neighbourhood develops sustainably, protecting our community facilities, our heritage assets, and our wildlife corridors.

“Our biggest asset is the continuous green corridor that runs from the South Circular and out into the Kent countryside.

“Our neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision to create a district Park - The Railway Children Urban National Park - so that the railway cutting that once inspired children's author Edith Nesbit (who lived on Baring Road) to write The Railway Children, will be protected for future generations to enjoy."

Edith Nesbit lived at the now demolished Three Gables on Baring Road between 1894 and 1899, which overlooked a railway cutting.

It is described by the London Wildlife Trust as "one of the richest wildlife areas in Lewisham" and a "relic piece of countryside".

The Neighbourhood Plan re-imagines these green spaces as an accessible nature trail running from the South Circular into Kent. 

The entire Grove Park ward, as well as parts of the Downham and Whitefoot wards, are covered by the plan.

Neighbourhood planning referendums give communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.

Residents created the forum after successfully opposing an application to demolish the historic Baring Hall Pub and replace it with a block of flats in 2011.

The incident highlighted the need for an overarching policy to shape the area.

They went on to begin the process of setting up a neighbourhood forum and creating a neighbourhood plan.

In 2014, the Mayor of Lewisham designated Grove Park as both a neighbourhood forum and a neighbourhood area, laying the ground for a referendum.

The full neighbourhood plan subject to referendum, and information about voting can be found here.

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