Spring 2014 news update

A groundswell of support is building for change in our local park.  We held our second AGM earlier this month, and were pleased to announce that FOWP now has more than 130 individual members and covers 6,000 households through the affiliation of the various local residents’ associations.  People are finally waking up to the fact that we have a 60 ha Grade II* Heritage Park on our doorstep – one that must be carefully looked after for future generations.

After winning a hard-fought campaign against Merton Borough Council’s illegal car park extension last autumn, we have been turning our attention to more long-term issues affecting the park.  These include the deteriorating quality of the lake, the poor state of the athletics stadium and the urgent need to protect natural habitats, such as the areas of ancient woodland.  There is also a growing awareness of the future impact of next year’s budget cuts, which will affect all of Merton’s green spaces.

Our priority has been to create a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) covering three types of activities: sport, study and wellbeing.  With these in mind we have produced a project plan, allowing specific projects to be developed within a coherent framework.  The projects we are currently working on include:

The lake

FOWP’s vision is for a healthy natural habitat, catering for walking, angling and watersports, with a footpath and boardwalk right round the lake perimeter.  A 1998 report by consultant Glasspoole Thomson analysed water quality and silt levels, concluding that the lake was in a hypereutrophic state, with high levels of phosphorous and other nutrients.  In autumn 2013, Merton Borough Council commissioned a further report to obtain a more up-to-date picture and see whether the silt depths had increased in the intervening period.  This report has not yet published.  We believe it is vital to regenerate the lake – a huge and costly undertaking – but we will only be able to move forward on this with the agreement of the three owners (Merton Borough Council, the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the Wimbledon Club).

The athletics stadium

The athletics stadium is in need of an upgrade.  FOWP has been working closely with the Wimbledon Club and other users such as local schools and the Hercules Club to rethink the entire site, with a better clubhouse and facilities for field sports, as well as the creation of a hockey pitch in the centre of the running track.  An architect has drawn up plans and a planning application is likely to be submitted soon.

Revelstoke Road improvements

FOWP wants to see a much better entrance to the park at the Revelstoke Road gate, including a 20mph speed limit, pavement changes and redesigned pathways into the park.  As you may know, we have carried out a survey of residents living in the street, who were almost universally in favour of the scheme.  Carrying out the changes will require approval and funding from Merton and Wandsworth Borough Councils.  

Trees

Recent tree works in the golf course and the public park suggest that Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are needed for the whole 60 hectare park.  This will help place nature conservation and landscape more firmly on the agenda and will involve all three owners of the park as well as officers in Merton and Wandsworth.

Although the regeneration of Wimbledon Park may seem a daunting challenge, there is every reason to be ambitious. Other London parks have been successful in their bids for grants, such as Burgess Park in Southwark (c. £8m), Bishop’s Park in Hammersmith & Fulham (c. £8m) and Wandle Park in Croydon (c. £3.5m).

But to make these plans a reality, we need as many people as possible to get involved. Do let us know your views on any of the above issues, and encourage your friends and neighbours to join us.  And remember to ‘like’ us on Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FriendsofWimbledonPark and follow us on Twitter at @fowpsw19.