It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, apart from dealing with individual residents problems the big project is the proposal for developing a Special Educational Needs School on Sheen Way Playing Fields in Wallington. There is not one resident I have spoken to who is against the building of a new SEN school, it is badly needed but the selected site is so unsuitable.
Time and again Council officers and developers say “well it was voted for in the Local Plan”. Two things spring to mind here, before I became a Councillor I didn’t even know about a consultation on the Local Plan or indeed what the Local Plan was and I’ll bet not many residents did either. Secondly I was not aware of Local Committee where the Local Plan would have been discussed so how is this a democratic decision. It was probably no coincidence that the two Liberal Democrat councillors for Beddington North lost their seats at the local elections because they voted for the Local Plan without even consulting with those the Sheen Way proposal will affect so badly.
The plans have now been submitted for comment and the first thing that strikes me is how the devil are they going to get the traffic around the roads of the High View Estate. They are narrow and the plans include bringing cranes in to site those horrible containers for the project offices.
I hope compensation when properties become damaged has been written into the budget. Just supposing they decide to put double yellow lines everywhere, the outcry will be louder than that for the CPZ, speaking of which are those proposals going to be “dead in the water”?
Another thing that strikes me, Councillor Dombey recently refused to back plans for a new high school and SEN school on Rose Hill Recreation Ground which is in her ward, saying that the designs were not very good and the children deserve better. Well I can tell you the Councillors for Beddington North and the residents affected by the Sheen Way proposals have been saying the same thing.
Is it good for children with special needs to be put into classrooms that are 12 metres from a railway line with at least 8 trains an hour plus the noise from the small industrial estate that runs along one side of the field? The designers tell me that it will be alright because the classrooms will have triple glazing with darkened windows which won’t open so fresh air will be replaced by air conditioning, lovely……
The field is also a flood plain taking water away from the railway line, it is no coincidence that after the ten hours of rain we had recently the line kept running whilst other local lines were affected by flooding, plus the fact that the houses were also safe.
Has everyone seen a copy of the Council’s environment strategy where they say they want to preserve open spaces and establish more? This summer the Sheen Way Playing Field was left uncut for a period of time and IdVerde cut swathes of pathways through it. It was magnificent and there were so many butterflies, bees and other forms of wildlife it is sacrilege and goes against the Council’s strategy to concrete over it. The strategy also calls on reduction in air and noise pollution. How’s that going to work for the residents of the estate when there will be air and noise pollution from the traffic? It has been estimated that there could be as many as 60,000 extra traffic movements a year and that is without the traffic from parents dropping their children off at High View Primary.
On 6 July over 60 residents of the High View estate came together for a community picnic. We hope to hold more events as it is so important in this day and age of divisions in society to bring communities together. The vision for the field would be to make it a community space with more tree planting, again in the Environment strategy, an allotment, a proper wood chip pathway and a dog free area for kiddies playground. So many people are now walking around the field for exercise either singly or in groups, families are playing ball games, this all goes to aid health and well being, something the Council wishes to promote.
Can I urge everyone to respond to the Parks and Open Space consultation which can be found on the Council website? This closes in early September and I find it amazing that if responses on consultations reaches 5,000 out of 200,000 residents the Council considers that acceptable. I for one think it is time to have a rethink on how consultations take place. I complain time and again about the phrase “it can be accessed on line”. Surely Local Committees can be utilised more effectively regarding consultations as well as engaging with residents associations and voluntary community groups.