Lewisham Council are proposing that the 107 year old public 18 hole golf course at Beckenham Place Park be closed as part of a programme of park improvements, following a lottery award of £4.9 million.
The Friends of Beckenham Place Park are holding a meeting at the Foxgrove Club on Tuesday 22nd July at 8pm to plan and co-ordinate a robust a campaign to save the golf course.
All local people are invited. Please let others know who might be interested in participating in this campaign.
3 thoughts on “Save Beckenham’s 107 year old golf course – meeting tomorrow 22 July 2014”
I wish to respond to Walt. First of all I would point out that Lewisham Council have a narrative and, of course, the figures they produce will support that narrative. I have done a lot of research into this and the whole consultation process and the data collection processes are deeply flawed. More golfers and other people use the park in general and the golf course than the council’s contrived figures suggest. There is both a paper petition and an epetition to save the golf course, both of which number in thousands.
Secondly, Walt will not get the park back after 107 years because prior to that the area of land we now know as Beckenham Place Park was never open to the public. It was a landscape reserved for the owners of the land and their invited guests. The introduction of the golf course and it being opened as a public golf course is what has brought the park into the public domain. The golf course is our heritage, not a small bit of phony landscape the council claims to be “restoring.”
Lewisham Council produced four scenarios for the park and all of them have many of the features in common that Walt refers to, although obviously the lake is one of the features they do not share. There are so many issues about the lake. If you look at the scale of the drawings you will note that the lake will not be anywhere as big as the one at Danson Park and this, along with the shape, is more suggestive of an ornamental lake than one for recreational facilities. Lewisham Council are still consulting and considering what the lake can be used for. What you also have to consider is that the golf course represents, in planning terms, formal recreation, whereas use of a lake is informal recreation. The change from formal recreation to informal recreation could make it easier for the land to be developed in the future. A big part of the lake bed is the area of woodland that is situated between the boundary of the 15th fairway and the railway line, it has a circular path going round it. The trees in that bed currently help to filter out the noise from the railway line and that filter will be gone once the lake is in-situ. The original lake silted up; in order to fill a “restored” lake (a lake that did not have a railway line close by!) the council will have to obtain a licence to bore for water. If you look at the information on the Environment Agency website this is by no means a foregone conclusion. The lake will also have its own set of issues as far as maintenance is concerned and one reason Lewisham Council – apparently – want to close the golf course is because of the cost of maintenance. However, retention of the golf course guarantees a minimum level of landscape maintenance. Will the lake end up like the fenced off large pond on the western boundary of the park – fenced off to prevent fly tipping?
If the golf course goes, the remaining landscape, which is still quite a large area will require the same kind of maintenance in terms of grass cutting and general looking after as a golf course. But there will be no golf fees to contribute towards this. Lewisham Council say that is OK because the costs will be worth it because more people will use the park. Really? And what if they don’t, what if Lewisham Council is wrong, what will their attitude to landscape maintenance be then?
If you look at the plans there is a large area for an events space and this, I suggest, is one area that definitely will need to have the grass regularly cut. Or are they going to concrete over it? An events space may well provide income to compensate for loss of golf income, but will it be a welcome addition to the park? In any event (excuse the pun) at present Lewisham Council do not know what kind of events will be held, they are still consulting. I have asked them what the access will be for the events, how will “eventers” get their equipment on to the space, where will they park etc. because I can’t work out this from the plans. Lewisham Council were unable to answer what is a simple question – what is the access – because they are still consulting. But access is access, no matter what the event!
What we have here is a council who are determined to close the golf course, for whatever short and long term agendas, no matter what. I have asked them, as a bare minimum, to confirm that they will not firm up a date to close the golf course until such time as they have all the necessary permissions in place, publically documented, and the finance in place. Silence! No response. So what happens if they close the golf course and they can’t get a licence for a bore for the lake or planning permission – the amount of soil that would have to be removed may require planning permission, to which there will be large numbers of objectors.) What if an events space turns out to be a non-starter?
Beckenham Place Park is 200 acres and the public golf course takes up less than 100 acres, plenty of room for other users and Lewisham Council can still put many of their plans into effect without destroying the golf course. The public golf course is the only facility in the inner boroughs of London and I know of current low income users who cannot afford the fees of a private golf club. So, all of a sudden they are second class citizens and have to be pushed out because people like Walt can’t find enough walking trails in the park as is. Funny that, I use the park daily and I can devise a different route every day!
Plenty of room for everyone they take plenty of money from golf but don’t give anything back keep it going
Having looked through the proposals for improvements to the park there seems to be much to be gained for the local community from the proposals. Restoration of the fire damaged listed stable block to provide a new accessible cafe and education centre is a big win as the building appeared on the verge of being unsalvageable, and new tennis courts, kitchen garden and play facilities in the restored pleasure grounds will be a real improvement at the centre of the park for all to enjoy. Improvements across the rest of the landscape are also very encouraging, particularly the restoration of the lake which I note might also be used for recreation (presumably rowing/canoeing like at Danson House?). Proposals to introduce adventurous play and new skate park/bike track on the east side of the park will be great for local kids and will be an improvement on the slightly tired and traditional provision that’s currently offered. Probably my favourite thing is the freedom to roam around the park freely on some of the new and improved paths, this is a beautiful park but as an ordinary member of the public some of the best areas are largely out of bounds unless I want to take up golf and I’m with Mark Twain on that one… If the figures on Lewisham Council’s website are true it seems like a huge gain to be had for the many, versus a little pain for the few golfers who still use the course, though why they even provide a course for so few golfers is beyond me..? I for one will not be joining a campaign to save the golf course and I look forward to getting this park back, after 107 years it’s about time!