Skate park debate: SPAG hope to grind out the right result

Concept design based on the Croydon skate park

The Telegraph Hill Skate Park Action Group (SPAG) have delivered 4,000 leaflets ahead of the public meeting on the 17th, in an effort to win support for their plans. With two days to go, they say they have three streets left to deliver to. Despite the fact that some people have kickflipped about the idea, they hope that by giving the issue air time on Thursday, they will win people round. Although we have no truck with those who fear our young people, we spoke to the kingpins at SPAG to ask them about some of the issues raised on this thread.

The group hopes to create a concrete skating rink in Telegraph Hill, to be used by local children, from infant school age to teenage. Their plans are modelled on a similar facility in Croydon (pictured) and designed to cater for a slightly younger skater, providing a local alternative to places in Ladywell and Peckham and keeping skaters off the streets outside people's houses and in the line of traffic. Based on their surveys in Peckham, they expect an average of 15-20 children to use the park every day.

The most likely location for the park is the Upper Park of Telegraph Hill, at the bottom of the slope that faces towards the city, out of sight of anyone hoping to enjoy the stunning views, below the picnic benches, near the gates.

SPAG are not fixated on using the Upper Park and acknowledge that the loss of green space and proximity to some houses are understandable concerns. They told Brockley Central that they'd gladly locate on any suitable site within the ward. They'd like to work with the Council and the community to get their park built in the most acceptable location. However, options are very limited.

The idea of closing Kitto Road to create a park there proved understandably challenging, with the group told that they would not receive planning permission. Walbutton Road was also suggested but it appears that the land is targetted for an expansion of Crossways Academy.

Sites in the lower park were the group's preferred option and one of the organisers tells us that siting it in the lower park is still an outside possibility. The group are still open to alternative suggestions from anyone with a good idea.


lb said...

Looks good to me.

Andy Milburn said...

And the right result is?

One favoured by a handful of parents, a couple of dozen teenagers and, seemingly, the Brockley Blog?

Or perhaps one the rest of the community is comfortable with?

PS: Vested interest: I live almost next door to the proposed site and the Brockley Blog doesn't.

PPS: And yet SPAG seems to have properly consulted the Brockley Blog despite ignoring me and my neighbours. Hmmm.

Pete said...

Andy through the medium of this blog SPAG have managed to actively engage the wider community. I'm not sure if you've noticed but they have said that they'll look at any area within the ward. Something people were asking for in the previous thread.

There really is no pleasing some people.

Woodward & Bernstein said...

It's a report summarising the SPAGS position, not an endorsement. That's how journalism works.

PS not sure the site is suitable either but enough of the conspiracy theories.

Andy Milburn said...

@ Pete

SPAG has been focussed on the Upper Park site throughout.

Other sites have been suggested - one by me - which haven't been properly considered.

I'm not saying it's wrong to pick a location and stick with it - but if that's the goal SPAG should at least have had the courtesy to speak to the neighbours.

I received my first SPAG leaflet on Saturday - less than a week before a crucial meeting. I've had nothing else at all from this group. Many other Telegraph Hill residents will tell you the exact same thing.

Yet SPAG claims to have been working on this plan for a whole year. A year in which members have had time to raise nearly £50k, talk to MPs, councillors, Friends of the Park, the head of parks etc etc etc ..

But in that time no-one has bothered to knock on the few dozen doors located within 100 yards or so of the proposed site to say ... "We'd like to build this next door, do you have any concerns? How can we address them?"

That's remiss for a group which claims to want to work with the community.

I actually quite like their design and I'm not worried about the views. Yet I won't support SPAG's current plan because my concerns haven't been addressed.

Brockley Nick said...

Andy, I think the right result is that it should be built somewhere - where would be best, I don't pretend to know.

Trixie said...

Excellent use of skate based puns :)

Can I also use this opportunity to apologise to Andy Milburn for "...libell(ing him) quite viciously on the Brockley Blog - alleged (he) described skate-boarders as gun wielders."
Would it be possible for me to get an equally heartfelt apology from it's a shame said... for viciously libelling me by suggesting that I wanted the park concreted over? - An equally 'libellous' statement obviously.

I'll be at the meeting tmw btw, can't wait for the red faced spluttering ruck that will surely occur - the farmers market will never be the same again...

Brockley Nick said...

Glad someone spotted the skate-puns, but please can you all refrain from libelling eachother.

Anonymous said...

What's the problem with siting it in the lower park, other than night-time access?
If it's only night-time access which is the issue, can't the skatepark be given a separate street entrance, which is kept open at night?

Anonymous said...

Trixie - it is not libellous to say you want Upper Park concreted over - you agree with a concrete skatepark going in on a green space. I think that counts as a park being conreted over. Even if you wanted a new path put down it would be the same. No legal case there.

If however, you don't think Upper Park should have a concrete skateboard park in it - then you have a funny way of posting your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

concrete over a bit of the park to create a recreational facility would be more accurate, still not convinced but at least refrain from the silliness you anti people.

Trixie said...

@Anon 17:21 - yeah I know... that's why I wrote 'libellous' and not libellous, I was being y'know sarcastic or ironic or something.

It's a shame said...

Really? Then I don't need to give you an apology or something

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, looking at SPAGS leaflet, they are proposing that a low level skate area is constructed that takes up a 25% of the area of grass below the bank that we all sit on. Surely we can accomodate that. I don't know if Andy Milburns house was missed but we recieved a leaflet about the proposal months ago. We went and watched the skaters in the basketball court on the consultation day. It was great, kids of all ages and skill levels having fun. I'm a bit mystified by the aggressive response on the Telegraph Hill forum. One more thing, Andys statement that it's only a small number of people that support this may be a bit misleading. I've spoken to loads of people that are in favour. We must move in different circles.

eberg said...

Seems like a fair few people who live in Kitto Road are in favour including the the people who live in the houses immediately adjacent to the park gate.

As there is now a a group formed in opposition to this proposal we will just have to wait and see who puts together the best argument. I'm for it personally. My house is next to the park and I can't see it bothering me one bit.

Vuvuzela said...


Tamsin said...

With one or two exceptions the anti-people anywhere have not been particularly agressive - just shocked that such a disruptive element - and it will be disruptive - is to be introduced into a Park that they value for its tranquillity.

A worry, which no-one has addressed, is that Lewisham Parks wont do a risk assessment until after everything is settled and might then decide that it has to be lit, or fenced, or the Park shut at dusk. Any of which would have a serious impact on the present users.

It would be nice if SPAG could be really open-minded about siting it anywhere in the Ward.

Another thing that has just occurred to me is the development on the old scaffolding yard, that has been on ice for ages, has built into it some play areas and community space - unspecified at the time I last saw the plans. Maybe those developers should be approached with the scheme (and its attached funding). Both that development and the Wheelscape designs are all curvy and orangic - go well together.

tawt said...

It would be good if was in Hilly Fields wouldn't it. All that space. Why should we have it Telegraph Hill? Why can't spag be more open minded and look to Brockley ward.

Anonymous said...

SPAG have a vested interest no doubt for one of two reasons. 1)an unwavering need to panda to their children's wants and need or 2) they worry about the affect kids skating on their road have on house prices.

TGH is a small oasis that manages to cater for everyone young old, families, singletons, sporty types. Please let's keep it as it is. Why spoil such a good thing just so supposedly 15-20 are expected to use it a day. Given that most will be in school, and that it gets dark in winter I'd like to know how SPAG came up with this figure.

Plus SPAG do tell us how £1000 of tax payers was used to consult the community? A complete breakdown of expenses would be most appreciated.

whydontyouturnthetvoffanddosomethingmoreinterestinginstead said...

Where's this debate happening? is it at the bottom of jerningham road or up at the top? opposite side or the church.

Brockley hustings was a hoot, descended into chaos, so if it's going to end up the same way then better than watching the BBC's Question Time.

Doh! said...

Another brainless bit of abuse from the antis, well done you're whipping up support for the spag position with comments like that.

creepylesbo said...

I don't see why they don't use Fordham Park behind The Venue, as it used to have a skateboard bowl back in the 70's and that park is flat and has the room, not to mention access for police vehicles and ambulances, if required.

Tamsin said...

@ 21.15 - too long a name! Aske's Jerningham Road site - bottom of the Hill, opposite Sainsbury's Petrol Station at 7pm. Everyone in the Telegraph Hill Ward (so actually not most of what has previously been termed "inner-Brockley") should have got a leaflet through their door. If you are in the Ward and didn't get a leaflet let Councillor Bell know as there was a company paid to deliver which has rather failed in its task and he is taking this up with the relevant people.

The first paragraph of Anon. 21.06 is a bit snyde, but I wouldn't call it "brainless abuse", and valid questions are raised in the rest of the post.

Mulls said...

I live on St. Asaph road about 2 minutes walk from the park and I haven't received any leaflet or information from the SPAG.

I think it's a disgrace that they're trying to foist this on people and I'll do everything within my power to stop this desecration of this unique space.

Cabsav said...

I live on Vesta Road - 5 mins max from park ... never seen nuffin' through my door. Poor show SPAG.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen most of the anti's have taken a (reasonable?) position and said that they like the idea of a skatepark but not in the upper park unless concerns x, y and z are dealt with.

So, until SPAG deal with concerns x, y and z, I suspect that significnt numbers of the anti's will say say they don't want the park as proposed as the only site being presented in the SPAG material is the upper park site.

You might disagree with the concerns of the anti's (and there seem to be divergent reasons for being anti) but at least they seem to be consistent compared to SPAG's "we'll look at anywhere but unless you tell us somewhere that clearly works we want it in the upper park".

eberg said...

An interesting side note to this issue is that at tonights meeting to discuss the skate proposal there will be a debate on how old someone should be before they are allowed to vote in the assembly. And possibly a vote. Is it a tactic introduced by the anti's to neutralise the boys who have been instrumental in this campaign and who played a leading role in raising the funds or is it something that has come to light as a gap in the ward assemblies constitution? How are these assemblies managed, do voters have to offer proof of address before they vote? There are all sorts of interesting issues floating to the surface. Local politics has suddenly become fascinating.

Tamsin said...

I don't think it is factor introduced by the "antis", as you call them. I wouldn't have thought they were co-ordinated enough or sophisticated enough. From what Councillor Bell was saying I believe it was something that the Assemblies team in the Council came up with since SPAG had demanded and been promised a vote before those concerned realised how inappropriate it was. So this is some sort of vote, but I am worried about how much thought has gone into the wording of the ballot, knowing how heated the issues are.

That said I'm pro-skatepark, but anti it being in the Upper Park and will certainly vote to exclude the younger children. Not to disenfranchise those who have put so much laudable effort into developing the scheme as they will at least have heard the concerns of others, but to cut out their friends and friends of friends who just think the whole thing is a lark. Like the lad who put 16 stickers onto the consultation board in February and thought it funny enough to boast about.

What all this does point out is how inappropriate a venue the Ward Assembly is for anything so controversial that will cause nothing but a legacy of ill-will (see Marks71's post on page 10 of the Forum discussion). Such matters should be decided by the Council or Parks authority or whatever, guided by views elicted from a full consultation and a single issue Public Meeting. All this acrimony is a far cry from the "friendly relaxed meetings" envisioned on the Council Assemblies website page.

Local politics hasn't become fascinating, it's become horrible, because we will all have to live here and get on with each other afterwards.

lb said...

"but anti it being in the Upper Park and will certainly vote to exclude the younger children"

So you will, by your own admission, affect the shape and application of a democratic process so it is more likely to deliver the result you want.

This is exactly why I rarely bother getting involved in local 'politics'.

Brockley Nick said...

Tamsin, I couldn't disagree more with you re: the role of local assemblies. They are a good forum for managing potentially contentious issues.

They give anyone concerned the opportunity to hear both sides of any argument in a well-managed environment and ultimately they give some direct influence to those who are going to have to live with the decisions.

jshez said...

This really needs to be built in the wasteland behind Xong Xiang (opposite the Broca Deli).

Close the railway, so no noise complaints, easy to get to. Fewer residents adjacent.,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.46357,-0.038002&spn=0.000937,0.002476&t=h&z=19

Jon Sherrard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brockley Nick said...

Jshez I agree with the principle of trying to find wasteland, but unfortunately, this isn't wasteland.

It's targeted for major redevelopment, with new homes being built there.

Jon Sherrard said...

this is a bummer dude....

Jon Sherrard said...

what about....behind the NHS walk in centre thingy, there's some land there? just brainstorming.

Tamsin said...

Thanks, but despite what they said as quoted in the opening entry either end of the Ward seems too far for at least some of the SPAG people. Which makes the vote irrelevant for many at the assembly and a single issue public meeting called by and chaired by the Councillors and if necessary facilitated by LBL officers or a meeting of Friends of the Park the right place.

There is no-where written down that I can see who has rights to vote at the assemblies so things are being made up as we go along which is not the way to do it. At least when there was likely to be a hung parliament trouble was taken to clarify in advance the constitutional rules that would apply so no-one after the event could cry "foul". This is not what is happening here and the votes on the votes are going to be as bitter as the issue itself.

Andy Milburn said...

I agree with you on that last post Tamsin.

It would be terrible if such a divisive issue swung on a few votes, particularly if the voting process is in any way controversial.

For a group which claims to want to work with the community SPAG is really not doing a very good job of it.

I've never seen anything divide Telegraph Hill residents this much.

Although there's an outside chance SPAG may be able to ram the plans through anyway, surely it is a much better tactic to address issues and concerns and reach a compromise rather than to plough on regardless.

Building a skate-park against the wishes of huge numbers of residents won't help anyone in the long run.

Tamsin said...

Absolutely - worth quoting Marks71 from the other Forum (page 11, not 10 as I said earlier) -

"Hmmm. This is seems to really be dividing people - and division is not good when I think pretty much everyone seems to think the idea of Skate park is a good idea.

For many of us in small flats without gardens the upper park is one of the few places we can go, sit on some green stuff and have (relative) peace. And pretty much everyone i spoke to in the park tonight thought the idea faintly preposterous, yet all thought the idea of a local skate park rather a good one. So, can we not come together on this and find a site that everyone (or at least a good majority) are in favour of?

I for one will fight for a skate park to be built! *But* the leaflet I got through the door had the tone of a fait accompli about my nieghbourhood and I found really found it presumptious. I didn't notice a leaflet, or anyone knocking on my door *consulting* me, just one *telling* me that apparently my community had agreed this by consensus. It only takes a trip to Skehans of the Telegraph to find out that isn't true!

As someone who runs a company that is employed to do community consultation, and believes passionately about youth provision I must warn people that a unpopular siting will do foundational damage to the idea of other youth projects that we might like to get going in the area. Do we really want to divide people when all of us want to see better community-supported provision for our youngsters?

On a positive note, this community has managed to work together to get the park's refurbished, a cafe coming soon and a yearly festival. We can certainly deal with this and without rancour. There *is* a solution both mediated and agreeable to all - but clearly the top park isn't the answer. We will find another and harmony shall reign.

I've just written about the great spirit there is my nieghbourhood for a book that will be published internationally. I'd hate to have to remove that section because we had a ridiculous skate war. It's just not us. So, rather than getting uppity can we have a chat, a cup of tea, a proper consultation and then a solution?"

lb said...

"Building a skate-park against the wishes of huge numbers of residents won't help anyone in the long run"

It has yet to be proved that "huge numbers of residents" object to it. A small, self-selecting group of rather strident commentators on local blogs is hardly a representative sample of anything, never mind a community.

"I've never seen anything divide Telegraph Hill residents this much"

The most divisive tactic being, of course, baseless scaremongering about "anti-social behaviour", which seems exactly the kind of discourse likely to destroy any community spirit that existed in the first place.

lb said...

"I've just written about the great spirit there is my nieghbourhood for a book"

Ah, but this is the problem: everyone loves the "neighbourhood", until it actually turns up on their doorstep.

LW said...

'"Building a skate-park against the wishes of huge numbers of residents won't help anyone in the long run"

It has yet to be proved that "huge numbers of residents" object to it. A small, self-selecting group of rather strident commentators on local blogs is hardly a representative sample of anything, never mind a community.'

I think this is a very good point as on here we have very mixed opinions and probably overall a pro skatepark anti upper park feeling while on the facebook page (the only other place online where there is some discussion about this going on) the feeling is a more definate pro skatepark. What everyone else in the community is feeling, i don't know.

One thing i do know is that even if the upper park is the wrong place (im not sure about this) there definately do need to be more provisions for teenagers in the area as it is only when there is nothing to do that anti-social behaviour happens, which is what many people quite rightly are concerned about.

However i have to completely disagree with the idea that a skatepark will raise antisocial behavvoiur, instead i can only see the opposite happening.

Anonymous said...

I live on Kitto Road and have never received anything from SPAG. It would be nice to at least be consulted on something that's being proposed within 50 yards of my home, and on a piece of public land that I use frequently - and that I contribute towards through taxation.

I have nothing against a skate park, but surely having one in Ladywell and one in Peckham Rye - both of which are a short bus ride or cycle away - is enough? How many skate parks does one small enclave of south-east London need??

The Upper Park has amazing views over London, is one of the few places in the area for dog-walking and chilling out, and putting a big concrete skate park in the middle of it seems like a real shame to me.

And yes, I'd say the same thing if one was being proposed for another small, local, well-used piece of green land. I'm not a NIMBY, more someone who has seen how much that particular small piece of grass is used and loved by the local area.

Are there no brownfield sites in the local area that would be better served? There's been a derelict area on Evelina Road (near the railway bridge) for years. What about that??

Anonymous said...

What about Hilly fields, there's lashings of space there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the naysayers. The mudslinging from the skatepark fans is disappointing. We can all support the idea of the skatepark, so let's take the time to get the location right.

Transpontine said...

Packed meeting tonight (200?), with both SPAG and Save the Upper Park agreeing that they would like the skatepark in the lower park. So hopefully it can now go ahead to most people's satisfaction, even if not everybody is happy. My report here

responsible dog owner said...

This is great news! I'm not against a skatepark per se but I wouldn;t want it in the upper park. So if the lower park is given the green light then everyone wins.

Unfortunately I was unable to go, but 200 turnout is impressive; nice to know so many people care about their local environment. Thanks for the update Transpontine most informative

Headhunter said...

The lower park? As Tamsin pointed out the whole issue was that kids were skating in the street after dusk, late into the evening. The lower park has to close at dusk as a condition of lottery funding. So basically the park will close and the kids will be back on the street with their boards and we'll have blown £50k of public money to solve nothing.

Transpontine said...

There were no plans to have lighting on the skateboard facility in either park, so in practice it would only be operational in daylight hours.

btw I think the lottery funding issue is a bit of a red herring - it is Lewisham that sets the opening and closing times for parks, even if there is a requirement to close at dusk that is a moveable feast and I hardly think the Heritage Lottery Fund is going to seek to claw back funding because the park is open for an hour or two longer - if that were to happen at some point.

Whether some children choose to continue to sometimes skate elsewhere after dark is a matter for them and their parents. I haven't seen much if any skateboarding late at night, though there is some in the early evening. In my daily experience, most skateboarding takes place in late afternoon/early evening before dark. As this is when the roads are busiest, this is quite risky.

Anonymous said...

HH, as usual your arguments fall over when scrutinised. Give it up

drakefell debaser said...


Does anyone know when the build will be completed?

Anonymous said...

Why not just close the park later - or shock horror, leave it open?

Tamsin said...

The thing about the Lower Park is that it is dog free. That means either having a Warden on site or having the gates shut so dogs can't get in. Anyone remember the days of the chain-link fences with huge gaps cut into them and people training their pit-bulls on the the children's swings?

Dog-grids (like cattle grids but for parks) were discussed when the restoration plans were being worked out in detail. There is a question about how effective they are, they also make access difficult for the elderly and infirm and those in high heels and the parks department were once - a real hoot this - threatened with legal action by someone who hurt his back carrying his alsation over a dog-rid!

For the record, and to vindicate Headhunter in picking up my concerns - I have more often seen children skateboarding on the streets after dusk than in daylight. Last January I was able to point out the near conjuction of the moon and Mars to some of them (they wondered what I was trying to photograph).

Headhunter said...

So it sounds like my arguments DO stand despitse "scrutinisation" and siting the skate park in the lower park MAY still lead to skaters on the roads after dusk, unless some kind of agreement can be made to keep the park open later and somehow stop people bringin their dogs in. Or perhaps both dogs and skaters should be allowed?

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, skaters will probably want to continue in to dusk. Just as joggers do.

Yes, that means that the lower park is sub-optimal, but that's the nature of compromise. It's the least sub-optimal solution. Which makes it the best solution.

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