At the last Dig the Park, and over the following week we planted 16,000 native bluebell bulbs in the American Garden, amongst the rhododendrons. You may have noticed the considerable amount of clearance that has taken place in this area, the result of a series of team efforts over the last year or two (including corporate community support, jobseekers and the Friends). Bluebells should provide a stunning addition to this space, before the rhododendrons themselves come in to bloom. Some members may be aware of concerns that natives are under threat from foreign migrants - nothing to do with a particular perspective on Brexit, but English Heritage is highlighting cross-pollination of native bluebells with hybrids from abroad, especially Spain. That is why our Head Gardener, Gerry Kelsey, has chosen Hyacinthoides non-scripta (typically found in woodlands) as the native species we planted. This is exactly what English Heritage is encouraging people to do, countrywide. If you’d like to read more about cross-pollination, and find out how ‘on trend’ we are at the Friends, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37674872
More people have expressed thanks to the park manager, Paul Highman for the creation of the new flower meadow than anything he can ever recall - over two hundred positive messages, either by email or verbally. This is not surprising, as the meadow- in front of the village copse- is stunning (see pics).
The meadow is not appealing only to the human senses: thousands of insects, from bees through to butterflies, are attracted to feed off the plants, increasing biodiversity. Importantly, this is not a one hit wonder. Although the plants are annuals, they will self-seed, if left long enough to do so, after dying later in the year. In that way a seedbank will be created in the soil, from which new plants will grow next year.
Watch out for further meadow plantings next year on some of the landscaped areas created as part of the flood works, including outside the bowling green.
Many members of the Friends' committee attended the Dulwich Community Council meeting on 28th January and Trevor Moore spoke on their behalf. After some debate about the cycling strategy, the chair of the meeting, Councillor Simmons, confirmed that Dulwich Park would not be part of the possible cycle spine, and that park opening hours would not be extended into the hours of darkness. He announced this as being with the authority of the relevant cabinet members.
There was also discussion about the consultation process for the cycle spine, which was felt by many to have been inadequate. The Friends, for example, were not notified early about the project, and there was particular concern for people with no internet connection.
The Friends’ Committee would like to draw to your attention a current consultation by Southwark in relation to a proposed cycling corridor which would, if approved, run in part through Dulwich Park.
At a high level, no doubt most people welcome the idea of encouraging cycling – indeed, several of the Friends’ Committee are active cyclists. However, attention needs to be paid to the detailed practical considerations and possible impact of the route, in each specific location.
The Friends propose to make a submission as a group. If you have views you would like us to bear in mind, please do email back. Obviously everyone can also make their own individual responses to the survey (see links below).
There is currently no information we have seen that tells specifically what the ‘corridor’ would mean for the park in physical/practical terms, but we are trying to find out more.
Considerations that the Friends have so far identified are (relevance depends on what is proposed):
- Is it appropriate to use a park as a commuters’ cycle corridor – effectively a cycling public highway - and risk changing the character and feel of the park, which many see as a carefree oasis? It is not the only possible route.
- At any time when the gates are open to cyclists, they are of course open to the many other free-roaming park users.Is it appropriate effectively to give cyclists priority and increase certain risks?
- The 5MPH speed limit in the park applies to cyclists just as much as those vehicles allowed in to the park (a typical cycling speed is 13MPH). At present, that speed limit is often not observed.Increased usage would heighten the need for observance.
- The park closes at night, at varying times during the year. If consideration is given to extending those hours, certain practical issues arise:
- would it be sensible to encourage children – or anyone - to cycle or walk through an unlit park in the winter months? Or would lighting be proposed (see below)?
- leaving the park open outside its current hours could attract socially undesirable behaviour elsewhere in the park (and create an increased safety risk for cyclists);
- security concerns for adjoining residential owners;
- the park is part of a ‘dark corridor’ that is ideal night-time terrain for wildlife, especially bats. Any lighting would prove detrimental to this protected species. Wider park use after dark by others (e.g. dog walkers) would disrupt other wildlife that has an overnight haven.
The link to the consultation is here: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/
You might want to take a read of the Executive Summary, and then take a look at the interactive map, here: http://www.sdgdigital.co.uk/
Please let us have your thoughts.
We have received this recent update of the flood alleviation works from the contractors MGJV.
'Whilst we are committed to meeting our deadlines on work yet to be completed we are at the mercy of the weather. In the event of prolonged wet weather conditions, dates may be subject to change. We hope that this will not need to be the case.
We are extremely pleased that the flood alleviation work in this important area of the park has been completed. Installation of new play equipment will continue throughout November and December. Reseeding the designated grass area will begin on 14th November undertaken by Southwark Council’s contractor, Landmark.
To allow the grass seed to become fully established over the winter months, fencing will remain around this area to ensure it is protected.
Installation of new play equipment for the playground will continue until December.
Planning permission for the flood alleviation project in Dulwich Park, Belair Park and the Dulwich Sports Ground was granted at Southwark's planning committee meeting which ended after midnight on the 25th March. The work will start very soon.
Some members of the committee of the Park Friends attended the meeting as well as two local residents, one representing the Dulwich Society. Representations were made to try to ensure that the plans would take into account the residual concerns of the Park Friends' Committee. These included adequate drainage being installed and maintained adjacent to the bunds, and establishing a baseline level of water in the lake at the current level, below which the water will not be lowered.
The planners have always emphasized that construction will be organised to minimize disruption. The construction phase is expected to last approximately six months. Access to the site will be via Queen Mary's Gate with the construction compound located along the access road. Pedestrian access through Queen Mary's Gate will be maintained. Dedicated footpaths will be installed on a temporary basis to maintain access within the Park when works are affecting the footpaths.
We advise everyone using the Park to be vigilant, as inevitably there will be increased traffic on the perimeter road. The playground will be shut for several weeks during construction of the adjacent bund.
A Tribute to Stella Benwell, 1921 - 2014
Stella was on the Dulwich Park Friends’ Committee for over 15 years and even after she retired (aged 90 of course!) we would still seek her advice. She had a lifelong interest in wildlife initially encouraged by her parents who were keen birders.
One of Stella’s great achievements was the copse planted in 2007 after a donation from the Dulwich Village Preservation Society – in less than 7 years we have a shady native woodland at the edge of the park instead of the ‘green desert’.
Planning Application Dulwich Park 13/AP/4517
The following is the formal response by the Committee of the Friends of Dulwich Park to the request for planning permission for the construction of flood alleviation defences in Dulwich Park.
Dulwich Park Fair has been cancelled this year due to the Flood Alleviation Project planned to take place in the Park between April to October 2014. Whilst not wanting to pre-empt planning permission which is still outstanding, a decision on the Fair has had to be made now.
This decision was not taken lightly but the schedule for the £3.8m flood alleviation works, which seeks to protect close to 200 properties in Dulwich from surface water and sewer flooding, means that some areas of the Park will not be accessible whilst construction works take place, making it too difficult to hold the Fair.
Please look at the link for the planning application documents to get an idea of the scale of the works, and in consequence, the inevitable disruption:
THIS IS A ONE-OFF CANCELLATION - THE FAIR WILL REVIVE IN 2015!
The application for planning permission for the construction of flood defences in Dulwich Park, Belair Park and the Southwark Community Sports Trust Grounds has now been submitted.
The deadline for comments is 5th of February 2014!
Details of the application, plans and other documents submitted with it can be seen on the planning applications register page on the council's website at www.southwark.gov.uk.
If you wish to comment on the proposals, they request you use the 'Planning - comment on a planning application' form available at https://forms.southwark.gov.uk.
If you wish to discuss the plans in detail, or need clarification, you are advised to contact the case officer 0n 020 7525 1778.
Southwark Council has prepared a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment which identifies certain areas, including Herne Hill and Turney Road, as being at risk from flooding by both sewer and ground water. (This initiative began long before the recent burst main on Half Moon Lane.) The drains in the area have insufficient capacity to cope with severe rainstorms, which are becoming more common as a result of climate change.
It has produced plans to make structural alterations to both Dulwich and Belair Parks to allow the retention of water in the parks during severe storms, with the water being allowed to drain slowly through the drainage system once the storm is over.
Southwark Council has finally announced the successful artist in its competition for a new work for Dulwich Park, to replace the stolen Hepworth bronze Two Forms (Divided Circle).
The chosen work is Three Perpetual Chords by Conrad Shawcross, comprising three iron sculptures which the artist describes as "visual descriptions of musical chords”, reflecting the mathematical patterns in music The illustration shown is a computer-generated image of one of the three pieces, which ascend in complexity. The likely timetable should see the work installed in late summer 2014.
Southwark Council has undertaken a consultation on whether there should be parking enforcement in the park.
Almost a year has passed since the brutal theft of Hepworth's Two Forms (Divided Circle) from Dulwich Park overnight on 19th/20th December 2011.
Southwark Council have issued a press release with details of the shortlisted artists for the commissioning of a new artwork for Dulwich Park following the theft of Barbara Hepworth's Two Forms in December 2011
You may have noticed the recent works in Dulwich by street artist Stik – there are two in Court Lane.
Some of you will remember Matthew Gilbey, who was apprenticed to Head Gardener Ric Glenn.
The theft of the Hepworth sculpture 'Two Forms' has united diverse groups of people who would not otherwise have had cause to work together. DPF is planning an exhibition about the sculpture to take place during the Dulwich Park Festival Fair (see below) in a marquee near the site from which the piece was stolen.
The park is suffering from a worrying phenomenon, the incidence of which is on the increase: dogs ripping the bark from trees.