Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Outcome of the Millfields Improvements Works consultation published

Back in July, the Council launched a consultation on its proposals for improvement works to Millfields.

Following the closure of the consultation period, the Council has now published the results of the consultation which can be found at here.

It confirms that:
  • the most popular design for improving the play area in north millfields was Option 5 and that the designers of this option will be appointed;
  • the ideas put forward for how the paddling pool area could be improved - including more seating/communal areas and some water play element. The Council says it is working on designs for the paddling pool area, and incorporating the views given;
  • whether the railings around the ‘village green’ in Millfields south (near the old Lodge building and next to the basketball and tennis courts) should stay as it is? Leaving the railings in place was the most popular choice  - so it will remain in place around the grassed area. We did a posting last year about why the proposal to have the railings removed was flawed, so we're pleased to see they will remain!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for the update. As one of the few email respondents I would have expected a notification by the council that the report has been published.

    The council's efforts towards engaging with people using Millfields (that is not just the self-proclaimed 'user group'), and this resulting report are very disappointing.

    It is of concern that the response rate is extremely low - only 78 responses have been received. It is debatable if this sample of opinions is sufficient to describe an accurate picture of what kind of improvements people like to see taken forward with the funding, which has been at the council's disposal for a long time. It is also evident from the report that next steps towards delivery remain obscure, and I am worried that we will see scarce funding being spent haphazardly and lazily without creating value for money.

    The way the consultation was structured and executed gave people only limited opportunities to describe their values, ambitions and priorities for change. Instead we have been given a tick box exercise about fencing on South Millfields, asked to rank a rather shambolic list of play equipment suppliers (described by the council as 'designers') for the northern play area, and separately about the paddling pool area.

    There was no recognition in creating value for money by joining up the dots and look at changes in a holistic way, i.e. considering improvements to the Casimir Road entrance area as a whole, including play and former paddling pool area, paths and fences/gates. For some reason the council chose to appoint some very good designers (We Made That, who created a great play space in Three Mills Green further down the Lea) to look at options for the defunct paddling pool only, but not the play area and adjacent environs. These areas must not be considered in isolation but as one space, in order to get a well scoped package of work agreed and underway, everything else is crazy.

    When I visited the consultation stall on North Millfields in the summer, the gentleman from the council stated that the Millfields Masterplan was 'dead' because there wasn't enough money to deliver it. The disregard to the fact that the masterplan had been created as a coherent framework within which deliverable projects can be taken forward over time, as and when funding becomes available, is deeply worrying and points towards a lack of design and delivery experience, and a lack of duty of care too. One has only to consider the level of residential development being proposed for the area between Lea Bridge Road and Old Tram Depot to get a feel for how much planning gain may be directed towards enhancements in Millfields, if only our councillors and officers were on the case. I believe that this particular area to the northeast of the roundabout is in desperate need of a coordinated approach in form of a Planning Brief is relevant in the context of this discussion too.

    At the consultation event it was also stated that much of the £700,000 from s106 had already been earmarked towards general improvements of pathways, and that only a small amount of the funding would be available to deliver environmental and play improvements. This has not been reflected in the consultation report, which is misleading. I don’t think what we need is new tarmac paths. There may be areas that should be repaired, but in times of limited resources we should be adamant that priorities are to make sure the park can more actively enjoyed by creating facilities that are attractive and worthwhile to use, including play for all ages.

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