Monday 16 June 2014

Charlotte Turner Gardens

The recent Twinkle Park summer fayre which was intended to celebrate completion of the works in Charlotte Turner Gardens prompted me to take a look around this little piece of park to see what has been done and what I thought of it.

Charlotte Turner Gardens and Twinkle Park are both leased by the Twinkle Park Trust from the council, and the renovation work that has been done has been developed and funded by the trust, which has worked with the local community (and whose board includes local tenants and residents). 

The details of the full plans can be seen on this drawing - as well as landscaping and new features, existing features have been renovated or improved, and a new play area for toddlers has been created. Quite a few new trees - mostly cherry and local apple varieties - have been planted around the sides of the park. 

What always puzzles me about this park - and my recent visit was no exception - was the lack of use it seems to get. Aside from a few sallow looking youths hovering around the benches on an evening, I can't recall ever having seen anyone else using the park.

On the other hand, it's not really on my way to anywhere, so I've only ever walked through it about three times in ten years of living in Deptford, so that probably doesn't really prove anything!

All the same, I visited on a Sunday afternoon, and would have thought that would be a prime time for families to be out using the park and exploring its new features. I do hope it gets more use than I have seen.

The new play area for toddlers is at the south end of the park, and consists of a series of wooden stumps of various heights, some rocks, a wooden 'sea monster' with humps behind it, a raised wooden platform and two 'sound pipes' that I assume you can talk into and be heard from one to the other. In all honesty I can't remember what was in this fenced area before - let's hope for the sake of the toddlers it wasn't the dog run. 

There's also some new planting, including a load of lavender plants against the fence which separates the park from the road. In due course these should grow up and create a nice fragrant border to the park.

Around the park some new features have been created - one is some very subtle landscaping with two low embankments created with a length of low wooden fencing and earth mounds - intended to partially enclose an area of grass that can then be used for ball games and so on. I was a bit flummoxed when I saw the first one, but when I noticed the other (they really are very subtle) I clocked what it was for. 

The 'trim trail' has been improved with some new features that have rubber mesh around them to prevent the grass getting worn - the grass grows up through the mesh.

Every park has to have a table tennis table these days, and Charlotte Turner Gardens is no exception. Considering the use that the one outside the Deptford Lounge gets, I hope this one will be just as popular, although I don't think I've ever seen the one on Crossfields estate in use. Perhaps it's all about location?

Along the eastern edge is a small apple orchard which hopefully will be given the chance to mature into something quite special. I didn't see any of the cherry trees but I believe most of them are on the west edge of the park.

The petanque court right at the northern end has been refurbished and improved - again, no sign of it being used when I visited but I trust it does attract players from time to time.

All in all I think the work that has been done is successful - we'll only know about the trees and planting in due course when they have had time to mature - but I think the designers have managed to keep the intervention nicely understated and the overwhelmingly natural spirit of the space has been retained.

I do worry about usage levels of the park and whether more should be done to encourage local people to visit it more often - there again maybe it's better as a quiet, reflective place that can be enjoyed for peaceful reflection. 


Anonymous said...

I walk through the park every Sunday morning and have seen a few people playing table tennis but otherwise like you am amazed that it is so under used. I would have thought that with all the flats around there would have been many more people and particularly children in there.
Chris S.

marq said...

I live facing Charlotte Turner Gardens. Outside just now are two boys playing football. Table tennis has proved popular for a number of families that come prepared and the children's play areas are also regularly in use. Runners take multiple laps of CTG,another neighbour exercises making press ups every day, and an elderly lady speed walks. It is a really well used and reflective space, very sensitively upgraded.


Deptford Dame said...

Great to know it's being well used, and also that there is one fewer 'dog run' in the world. I can't see the point in them, they seem to be places people bring their dogs to crap, and their presence does nothing to encourage responsible dog ownership.

sascha.humphrey said...

The whole park is still being used a a giant dog toilet and the money spunked on it could have been better spent on other projects, the new children's play area for instance cost £41000 (I have it on video), come on tell me where that has been spent, it's a bit of decking with some wooden bits round it, as for the herbs that where planted, well the council should have replaced them ages age as it was their overzealous employees (who don't seem to know the difference between weeds and herbs) that strimmed them out of existence. As for Twinkle park it has a pond without any water in it, and I heard that it would cost approximately another £16000 pound to put right as the membrane has tear in it, someone told me that a ground penetrating Radar needs to be hired to find said tear and repair it, but £16000 who comes up with these figures.
Why was approximately £1.2 million not enough to finish this "20 year master plan", a 20 year fiasco and waste of money would be more apt....
Here Is what it say on the Landscape architects(Ireland Albrecht) own website


Location: Deptford, London
Client: Twinkle Park Trust for LB Greenwich
Contract Sum: £400K

Project Description

A transformation from ‘left over space’ to tranquil oasis, Twinkle Park is a pocket park that features a large pond to create a wildlife haven within the city. Habitats are enhanced by rainwater harvesting from adjacent roofs and native and naturalised planting. Around the pond are extensive decked areas for pond dipping and enormous boulders to leap across. The park design includes ball and natural play areas that are shared with Charlotte Turner School. The connection of park and school is by a bespoke gazebo that includes an inventive lockable seat and fencing feature.


Location: Deptford, London
Client: Twinkle Park Trust for LB Greenwich
Contract Sum: £800K

Project Description

Twinkle Park was the first phase of the Charlotte Turner Gardens masterplan which has seen the implementation of three subsequent phases. Features included: Road closure and Homezone improvements to the front of the Charlotte Turner School, alley widening to improve connectivity between the two spaces, a sensory garden, school playground improvements, lighting and signage improvements and outdoor sport and performance spaces.

The park benefits from the ongoing management by the Twinkle Park Trust who are currently applying for Green Flag status."

Anonymous said...

New apple orchard planted whilst the existing plants, which are lovely, are being strangled and overtaken by bindweed ! Including a blossom tree that has died because of the weed. Not the best thought out planning surely some of the money could have gone into thinking that through.
Plus four benches altogether in toddler play area great for local drunks to gather after hours and no benches anywhere else ! Thanks would have been better to have consulted the whole community not just a few people. . .? . . Not saying the whole thing is negative as it's all needed but sooo poorly thought through.

Mari said...

I've lived nearby since before original landscaping created this park (City Challenge/Urban Renewal era) Richard Walker then partner of Jesse Steele I believe was involved in its birth. Knowing families that live on the adjacent council estate I'm willing to pass on the feeling that there has never particularly been a sense of "ownership" by residents of Gilbert and other Greenwich council houses about this park and that it was not accepted as being For them but for "other" (unknown) people. (Contrast the community ownership of Deptford Adventure Playground when run by Mac around the corner) Physically the Gardens have been a tag on at the back of somewhere else while the river frontage has been publically closed off. Now that all the new builds are in place the Gardens those "other" people could maximise its use with ease and pleasure..Though how that will impact on residents of social housing next dorr is to be seen..will it melt or increase a socio-economic divide ? Well written and observed as every Dame - thanks

RogerM said...

I am not local (from Rotherhithe), but often walk down your way and am interested in any comments you have on the Thames path - If it is included in the plans, any ideas on timing?

I agree with your comment "AGES" - I have been waiting for something to happen for about 30 years....- used to live in Sydenham. Lewisham certainly haven't seen the development as a priority - it has been willing to live with the eyesore. No doubt it will also ignore nature as it did at Tidemill.