Present: Anne Orange (chaired first part of meeting), Helen O'Brien, Bernie Bullbrook, Richard Moore, James Slattery-Kavanagh, Joe Ward, Jane Pickard, Gerry Slaughter (chaired second part of meeting), Daphne Slaughter, Clover Williams, Coun Geraldine Evans, Graeme Little (plat-form), Barbara Malcolm (Ujima Education Services).
Apologies: Michael Grimwood, Gabrielle Garton Grimwood, Rod Brown, Pat Fisher, Simon Berlyn, Coun Robert McConnell, Coun Jeremy Baker, Jeremy Galloway, Coun Janet Grigg.
No-smoking vote: Agreed not to smoke at this meeting due to one member's asthma.
Knight's Hill Recreation Ground (Tivoli Park)
This item was taken first because visitors had come to talk about it. Barbara Malcolm, from Ujima Education Services, said her organisation (which was nothing to do with the Ujima Housing Association) provided a nursery, after-school club and holiday scheme and had been based at Norwood Park primary school. There was now no space left there and they needed to move soon to other premises. They had proposed to the Lambeth Parks Department that they construct a new nursery school on the site of the old youth club in Knight's Hill Recreation Ground. The parks dept had looked at the proposal but said it needed more consultation with the community.
The nursery currently had 24 children and was properly constituted with a committee made up of local parents.
Graeme Little, from plat-form, an architects firm consulted by the nursery, showed an initial design he was putting forward for the building, along with some suggestions for improvements to the park. He had spoken to Alastair Johnson, of Lambeth Parks Dept. The park had three derelict buildings: a former pavilion, toilet block and youth club. It was partly flooded with a water course which was believed to come from a natural spring: the water had been tested and found not to be mains or reservoir water. The park was poorly lit, badly maintained and under-resourced.
The idea was for a 50-place nursery on the ground floor of a new, two-storey building, next to where the old youth club had been. The first floor would be a 50-place after-school club plus community space for meetings, etc. There would have to be emergency access for vehicles, which he proposed should come down the north side of the park from Knight's Hill. And the park would need lighting. Also, there could be an all-weather edge to the park for walking and cycling, roller-skating, plus a hard play area, partly covered, east of the building, a dog-free area and a restored playground. A football or multi-games area might also be possible. The water course could be turned into a feature with the planting of suitable flowers and trees, rather than drained off.
He and Ujima were working with Surestart and Neighbourhood Nurseries for funding. Both were interested in principle. They were also meeting Lambeth's education department.
There was a long debate about the proposals, with several objections from NAG members, principally to the proposed siting of the building, also over security issues, parking and about open land being used up. Some suggested the building should be at the Knight's Hill end, so no access road was needed, others that it should be along the northern side, so the park wasn't cut off in the middle. Helen O'Brien said the building should not be too close to the polluted Knight's Hill. But she suggested a road crossing near there. Richard Moore suggested the architects get police advice on designing out crime. Romano Barca asked what provision for parking there was, as Tivoli Road was impossible to park on. And why did they need a two-storey development? He believed we should preserve open spaces rather than build a venue. He wasn't convinced there was a spring - the water could be a leak. James Slattery-Kavanagh doubted whether a wetland area was an educational advantage since there were other similar sites in the area..
Graeme Little said there would be a detailed look at parking at the detailed planning stage. This was a strategic proposal - he didn't pretend to have designed the building or addressed all the technical issues. The aim was to regenerate the area and bring people back into the park. He said a visiting park ranger could be employed by the council/community to keep an eye on security. He added that an audit of nursery provision in Knight's Hill had shown it was one of the worst supplied areas in the country. He stressed that the aim was for the park to be redeveloped for community use and the building to be managed by a committee of local people for community use.
After the two visitors had left, Coun Geraldine Evans said she was worried that, after the building was completed, there might not be any resources for the rest of the park. She agreed the nursery provision was needed, but wasn't sure the location was ideal. Gerry Slaughter said there should be more council coordination of plans for parks, youth provision, etc.
Minutes and Matters Arising from Previous Meeting
Minutes were agreed. Matters arising:
1. Jane Pickard passed on the message from Michael Grimwood about trees which could be sponsored in Norwood Park. It was agreed that NAG sponsor a Dawn Redwood, Smooth Japanese Maple and Hupeh Rowan, as he suggested. Total cost £195.
2. Some concern was expressed about NAG not delivering its views clearly to councillors. Jane Pickard suggested drafting a shopping list which could be voted on at a future meeting. This was agreed.
3. Gerald Slaughter pointed out that NAG had agreed to ask Couns John Whelan and Irene Kim to explain the decision to allocate money released from properties sold in Norwood to Myatts Fields estate in Brixton. He said there had been a statement before the election that the money would be spent locally. Coun Gerry Evans agreed to follow this up. Romano Barca argued that we shouldn't lose sight of the horrendous problems of deprivation in the Myatts Fields area which were even worse than the problems in our area. He described finding 18 Portuguese drug addicts living rough among rubbish by the garages of one tower block. He thought this was John Whelan's argument for prioritising the area.
Bernie Bullbrook expressed concern about the crime day arranged for 30 November at the Nettlefold. He said there was £25,000 available for action on drugs, of which £5.500 was the Norwood town centre drugs initiative allocation. At present, it wasn't clear how the money would be spent other than by the town centre manager. He was against money being frittered away on useless public meetings and literature. He said there didn't seem to be an agenda for the day, no meeting had been set up to organise it, no police drugs officer had been invited.
Gerry Slaughter suggested Bernie drop a letter to the town centre manager asking for a copy of the agenda, whether the meeting was about spending money for a drugs campaign and who the speakers were. And could we have an answer before the meeting?
Bernie also said the local crime prevention group had given some money to a woman who made a good video with young people on mobile phone theft and wants to do another on stop and search. He had suggested that money from the drugs fund go towards this.
St Luke's Gardens
Richard Moore said it turned out from new information from the church that the council, not the church, owned the gardens. The church merely leased the land. This had emerged at the last St Luke's Gardens working party meeting.
Any Other Business
1. Richard Moore asked people to drop a line to the borough commander supporting his desire to use sniffer dogs to find drugs.
2. Jane Pickard raised the issue of land off St Julian's Farm Road, behind the buildings bordering Leigham Court Road. This had been a playing field, which was allowed to become a wilderness area, was owned by the Girls Public Day School Trust and had recently been bull-dozed without warning apparently in preparation for building work. A developer had done the bull-dozing and would like to build houses there. The trust was saying it had to sell the land and maximise its return - that it had no option as a charity. Coun Geraldine Evans had contacted residents with homes backing on to the land and held a small meeting to test local opinion.
Geraldine Evans said there were mixed messages from the residents. They had liked it as a wilderness. Now, some wanted recreational space, a playing field or park and/or playground. The last thing they wanted was unfettered public access to the site.
Agreed to put on the agenda for January.
Next meeting Agreed this should be a Christmas social at a venue to be named.