Lottery funding  RVPS position  5 August 2014
Beckenham Place Park is to receive £4.9m in Lottery cash to support restoration and fundraising. Very broadly the proposal, as set out in the funding proposalis to close the golf course and restore the landscape to something like it was in the time of John Cator in the 18th century.

An earlier Planning Inquiry, presided over by a Planning Inspector, was held to determine whether it was appropriate for David Lloyd to open a tennis centre. It considered all the facts and decided that it was not appropriate to open such a centre. Much of this was due to Leslie Tucker, our former Planning Officer, and Peter Pain (deceased), the former Vice Chairman of RVPS.

The views of the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society on the latest proposal are as follows:

  • RVPS involvement on matters regarding the park since David Lloyd's defeat has been through the Beckenham Place Park (BPP) Joint Working Party. We have been represented throughout the last 20 years of its existence. The lack of any significant positive outcome during this long period has been frustrating.

  • The present offer of a lottery grant is the first opportunity to grasp the long awaited chance to ensure a worthwhile future for this unique facility in this part of London. It must not be lost.

  • Of course, we have to recognise that this scheme mainly deals with the park and not all of the buildings within it. Funds for restoration work on the Stable Block, the lodges and the previous cottage for gardeners have been included in the present grant. Proposals for the Mansion will be submitted as the subject of a second application for government funding. If past history is any indicator, then finding suitable uses for the mansion will be more difficult than deciding on the future of the parkland. However, if the park can be confidently dealt with, appropriate uses for the buildings are more likely to follow.

  • As we see it, the role of the Working Party is now to accept, as RVPS does, that a decision has been made by Lewisham to accept the majority choice of the public consultation out of the four outline proposals and that this option is the one which the Heritage Fund will support. The many questions that arise from the adoption of Option 4 must now be addressed in a constructive manner. Very broadly this proposal is to close the golf course and restore the landscape to something like it was in the time of John Cator in the 18th century. We are not sure that the last part of these two aims is worthy of being taken too literarily but it could well be steered towards a common-sense solution later.

  • If the Working Party is to retain any credibility its contributions should be searching but constructive.

  • We have already seen a great outcry by golfers against this decision, many saying that Lewisham intend to close Beckenham Place Park; this is clearly not so. The intention is to open the park to the public as a whole and to remove the perception, presently held by a large part of the populace, that the park is a golf course and not for public access.

  • There is much more to say about detailed issues which will need to be discussed but that is for the future as details of the proposals emerge.
Lewisham and Catford flood alleviation scheme
  RVPS position  20 July 2014
The Environment Agency has released details of a flood alleviation scheme in our area. In short, the intention is, at times of exceptional rainfall, to store temporarily water in our area to prevent flooding in Lewisham.

To do this a very big earth bank will be built in order to make, at times of exceptional rainfall, a lake. The water will be released again, allowing the grass to reappear, after the risk of flooding downstream has passed. The briefing note from the Environment Agency gives further details.

The views of the Ravensbourne Valley Preservation Society are as follows:

  • RVPS is in favour of this imaginative and enterprising scheme (which is currently at an ‘in principle’ stage), as it would prevent the flooding of many homes and businesses downstream. However, we would want to make sure that any changes to the landscape are made sensitively and in a way that enhances the leisure facilities.

  • Changes should also dovetail with those proposed for the wider Beckenham Place Park, details of which can be found here.

  • We would also want reassurance that, should water be stored in the proposed storage area, there could be no adverse effects on local properties in Calmont Road, Ravensbourne Avenue and Ravensmead Road; and there will be sufficient resources to enable full reinstatement, should this be necessary, of the inundated storage area after it drains.