Saturday, 10 December 2011

back to the drawing board

At the millfields users' group meeting on Wednesday, there was consensus about the need to overhaul the entrance to Millfields from Casimir Road. Residents, however, expressed concerns about the Committee's proposals which lacked coherence, with details not properly thought through.

The Committee presented it as a take it as a take it or leave it option - if users didn't agree to this, there is a risk funding will be lost. Questions from users were met with rebuttals by the committee, rather than a genuine willingness to engage, explain and explore options with park users. 

Concerns and questions raised included:-

o       Happy to see café opened out but this seems to be at the expense of a reduced play area. Have restoration and management/maintenance costs been considered for the café prior to the play space being given up? It would be a shame to lose play space only for the café to sit empty/un-maintained.
As the Committee has already decided the existing playground is adequate for young children (so there are no plans to upgrade these), it remains unclear how play equipment for older children will be squeezed into a reduced play area. Does reducing the size of the play area require planning permission?

o       Will the boundary railings along Casimir Road be repaired and if so, will they meet modern standards given the (increasing) drop in level between the road and the park? Has this been budgeted for?

o       Realigned path seems to require moving or relocating a least two pieces of the trim trail. Will these be retained? The Committee confirmed it had not considered how the path would connect at the riverside end. Local residents hadn't been consulted about the plans to move the path. Given the limited resources, it was questioned whether moving the path a good use of limited resources.

o       Will the realigned path have new lighting columns and has this been budgeted for?

o       The diverted path around the former paddling pool seems to be located on embankment. Have levels been checked? Proposed hoggin surface is less likely to work on a slope.

o       The path diversion appears to be an allowance for a wheelchair friendly route but cannot this be routed more directly through the former paddling pool? The problem is that the proposed route does not follow the main pedestrian flows (desire lines) through the park.

o       The planting between the realigned path and Southwold Road estate is not shown – is this funded and fully detailed and will it be provided at the same time or not?

o       Have the adjacent Southwold Estate residents been consulted on potential security concerns – their fencing has already needed anti-climb paint.

o       Why does the footpath adjacent to Casimir Road not justify a wheelchair friendly surface?

o       The paddling pool proposal lacks detail. No consideration has been given to simply removing it and turning it into a grass area, as outlined in the Masterplan. Can the former paddling pool walls be broken out and entered in all three corners? Will the raised wall have bench type seating on top? Will there be planting within the ‘bowl’ rather than all hard surfaces ( which may end up as a skateboard park more than a plaza)? Granite or marbling was suggested for surface - but the council officer advised that this would be unlikely to be maintained should the surface become damaged. Has a structural survey been undertaken to ensure building on it won't result in it subsiding.

o       Of the non playground areas, paddling pool area gets the most sun through the day and through the year. Should there be a direct link, level, between the proposed café and the plaza where people will naturally want to go and sit in the sun?

o       Has wheelchair access into and around the plaza been considered?

o       Why not some cycle stands?

o       Why has the teenage hangout structure been left almost as an afterthought at the edge of the proposals and clipped by the realigned path?

It was agreed that a sub group needed to set up to work up a series of detailed costed options which would be brought back to users some time in the future. 

No consideration given to simply grassing over the paddling pool area. 


  1. I had assumed the introduction of the cafe was to create a revenue source to help maintain the park. Is that right?

  2. not sure coffee shops in parks make much revenue, but certainly a nice thing to have. personally,i'd be happy with a little mobile coffee van down by the river. less overheads and more flexibility about where it pitches up. mike

  3. Don't be daft Michael,

    These were just ideas at a very very early stage for which we were interested in comments. The Casimir Road entrance will be renovated but following an extended design and consultation period like everything in the park. The committee make no decisions without invitation to the entire group to comment and frequently vote as you well know.


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