|An artist's impression of the new cafe|
We have been campaigning for a cafe for years, and have been promised one by Lewisham Council – including as part of the Council redevelopment of the park that created the Community Garden and revamped the play area. But the Council were unable to follow through on their plan to build a cafe at that time.
Since then, we have worked with them to identify some funding – £50k – to launch a tender process to encourage an outside investor to build a cafe in the park.
A viable and attractive cafe plan is in front of Lewisham Council for approval right now – made by a local businessman who has worked closely with the Friends of Mountsfield Park. You can see the plans and some pictures of the new cafe here.
But the planning department at the Council is making unreasonable demands:
Firstly, they are demanding that the new design have a ‘biodiverse living roof’ to replace what they claim is a living roof on the existing, abandoned container units. In fact, the current ‘living roof’ is around a dozen unmaintained planters. We have offered to move these and add them to the Community Garden, so there is no loss of natural habitat, but the Council says this isn’t good enough.
Secondly, they are demanding that the new design meet the ‘BREEAM’ environmental rating of ‘excellent’, even though the Council was prepared to waive this requirement for the cafe they planned to build in Mountsfield Park! In other words, had the Council actually managed to deliver the cafe they promised in 2014, we would now have a cafe that didn’t meet these very high standards. The current proposal meets the ‘BREEAM’ environmental rating of ‘good’ with an aim to achieve ‘very good’. This means the current plans exceed mandatory standards by some margin.
If Lewisham Council turns down the current proposal – for what we think are spurious reasons – it could be years before another option is available and the money we fought to get the Council to commit to support the project – £50k – will be at risk.
We want the Council to take an intelligent approach, to look at the benefits a cafe would bring to Mountsfield Park: it will bring in revenue, encourage people to stay in the park longer and enjoy the Community Garden and play area, improve security by making the park more attractive to families, provide a place for dog walkers to get a cup of coffee, and it will mean that maintained toilet facilities are available in the park. These are far more important than a handful of planters!
We have until August 3rd to make our voice heard, so please add your signature to this petition. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 August 2016 with any further comments, thoughts, and experiences. All evidence is good evidence and will help us to make the case.