Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Margaret McMillan Park redevelopment

When I visited the Deptford Update exhibition last year I took the opportunity to read up some of the documents there that related to plans to improve public areas around Deptford, including Margaret McMillan Park, Fordham Park and the underpass that links the two, and Folkestone Gardens.

I meant to write about some of them but other priorities came and went - now I see that work has started on redevelopment of Margaret McMillan Park and the footpath is currently closed off while the work is done.

I tried to track down some information about what is being done, to back up what I vaguely remembered from the exhibition, but all I could find online was a minimal amount of stuff on the Lewisham Council website, and a draft plan, which was a bit mysterious anyway without a key.

The gist of the report, as far as I can remember, was that the footpath link from New Cross Station to Deptford through this part of the park is badly lit and rather overgrown, making it unattractive in the hours of darkness. I can certainly attest to this - I would rather walk the long way round along New Cross Road to Deptford High Street than take that short cut in the dark.

The play area is rather cut off from the main thoroughfare, making it seem like a totally different park. There is very little seating and the sightlines are bad from one end of the park to the other - which contributes to the feeling of insecurity.

I eventually found the planning application documents, which revealed that the main intention of the work, as well as improving lighting and sightlines to make the park seem less forbidding at night-time, are to introduce changes that will encourage local people to use it as a place to to meet and interact, rather than just as a route from one place to another, whether that be Deptford to New Cross Station, the shops to the Waldron Health Centre, the Albany to the Amersham Arms, etc etc.

The improvements are basically going to be:

- removing or trimming back some of the shrubs that are close to the footpath
- resurfacing the footpaths and creating some new footpaths
- opening up the entrances to give them a stronger identity
- removal of two small trees
- new soft landscaping
- new street lighting
- new furniture including seating, cycle stands, bins and signs

There's a sketch but it's not very exciting in black and white I'm afraid - looking from the Deptford end.

Here's a picture of the entrance to the park at the New Cross end, to remind you what an underwhelming entrance it is!

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