Friends of Watermans Park
Annual General Meeting
29 June 2022 at 7pm
To be held at Studio Flox, Ground Floor, Watermans Park Office Building, 44a High Street, Brentford, TW8 0DS. Access from Watermans Arts Centre car park and Smith Hill.
To consider and if thought fit to pass the following resolutions:
- TO approve the minutes of the 2021 AGM (see ANNEX I)
- TO receive, consider and adopt the Chair & Treasurer's statement for the year ended 31 March 2022 (see ANNEX II)
- TO approve the introduction of an annual members subscription of £10 for year to 31 March 2023
- TO reappoint Philip Jones as Chair & Treasurer from the conclusion of the meeting
- TO reappoint Kal Watrobski as Secretary from the conclusion of the meeting
There will also be an opportunity to raise any other questions at the meeting.
If a member is unable to attend the meeting on 29 June they may vote on the resolutions here up until 12pm on 29 June.
Minutes of the 1st Annual General Meeting on 30 March 2021 held by videoconference at 7pm
The Chair noted that notice for the meeting had been circulated on 18 February 2021 and an agenda and papers on 23 March 2021. 9 members joined the conference call and the meeting was declared quorate.
- The Chair and Treasurer’s Statement which had been circulated in advance was approved.
- Jane Dickinson & Sara Novakovic were unanimously re-elected by those present as Committee Members.
- There was no other business to be recorded in the minutes.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
30 March 2021
Chair & Treasurer’s statement for the year ending 31 March 2022
The principal purpose of the Friends Group set out in its constitution is to help protect, conserve and enhance Watermans Park, its environs and access to the River Thames for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors.
The local residents who have formed the Friends Group envisage a vibrant community amenity which can host community events as well as an attractive recreational area by the River Thames for all to enjoy.
This statement is a summary of Friends activities for the year ending 31 March 2022.
Landscaping in the park
It was an eventful year which ended with much of the park reopening at the end of March after re-landscaping over the winter. Many more people are now visiting the park and using the new facilities and enjoying the wonderful wildflowers.
A new landscaping scheme was an integral part of the arrangements to build moorings in the river by the park and the Arts Centre and the landscaping has been financed by the Council with a contribution from the developer. Around 700sqm of the park at the eastern end had been reclassified as Metropolitan Open Land several years ago so that it could be used to build a car park / facilities building for the moorings.
Implementing the scheme to transform the park would not have been possible without the strong support of the Council’s parks team (Stefania Horne (now with the Corporation of London), Gaye Galvin and Lena Sandhu) and Cllr Guy Lambert. We were also pleased that Rob Petrow was appointed to update his 2016 landscaping plans to accommodate the westbound cycle track of C9 and introduce new features.
The Friends were able to engage with the parks team and Rob Petrow to influence the landscaping plans through regular stakeholder meetings and a public survey with particular input from local primary schools. After the updated plans were presented to an open meeting in July 2021 an application to the Planning Authority was made by the Council to make amendments to the 2016 planning consent. Apart from incorporating C9 some key changes included restoring the timber walkway which was to have been removed and replaced by a reed bed, introducing a drinking fountain and a watering point to support a community garden, an adult exercise area, basketball hoop, table tennis table, saving some trees and a more ambitious planting scheme. Cast iron caps on wooden dolphins in the river relating to the former gas works with the motif 'GLCC BD 1930' (Gas Light & Coke Co.) were specifically identified to be saved for display in the park when the moorings are constructed. Planning consent was received at the beginning of October 2021 with Blakedown commissioned to start landscaping works in November 2021.
As visitors to the park will appreciate much has been achieved. There are, however, some key features still to be completed: the timber walkway will now be restored by the moorings developer, the drinking fountain by the exercise area is not yet connected to the water supply, nor is there a watering point at the east of the park, and lighting for the cycle track is not yet in place or connected to the electricity supply nor is the electrical point in the performance space. New seating along the Thames Path is to be installed along with bird and bat boxes, insect hotels and a book depository. There is therefore still much for the Friends to do to ensure the transformation of the park is completed as promised.
The Friends also thank Greenspace 360 and their Park Rangers for looking after the park.
The Heritage Trail between Kew Bridge and Brentford Bridge by proposed by Jim Storrar of Brentford Voice with the support of the Local History Society now has planning permission. The first information board is likely to be in Brentford’s Market Place later this year. The two boards proposed for the park will probably be in place by this time next year.
By summer 2021 the developer had arranged for wrecks in the river to be removed in preparation for the first phase of the moorings development (which starts at the eastern end of the park and does not go quite as far west as the vessel Lis).
In June 2021 a re-application for a Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) was made. This was opened to public consultation in October 2021 and the Friends made representations In November 2021 which you can find here. Our principal concern is to ensure as far as possible that the demolition and construction works are carried out safely to protect construction workers, users of the river both up- and downstream and the marine environment. This is particularly relevant given the site’s previous use as a gas works and it is known there are contaminants on site with elevated levels of lead and asbestos in the riverbank and park as set out in the 2016 planning documentation. The Friends considered that the documents submitted by the developer to the MMO did not fully address these concerns.
Our comments were not taken up, principally we understand because they related to pre-existing Local Planning conditions that still need to be satisfied, and on 10 March 2022 the developer received a Marine Licence from the MMO to construct moorings at Watermans Park. We understand that the developer now has until December to complete Phase I of the moorings. There are, however, Local Planning and new Marine Licence conditions to be fulfilled.
The Marine Licence includes permission to remove the timber boardwalk and install a reed bed as originally intended in 2016 and does not take account of the updated 2021 planning consent to retain the timber walkway. The Council assures us that the boardwalk will be restored and the permitted activities set out in the Marine Licence to remove it simply won’t take place. Indeed it is comforting that in May 2022 the developer submitted an amendment to the planning consent changing the position of the access ramp to the moorings so that it does not cross the area of the timber walkway.
We are still puzzled that the developer’s Method Statement for constructing the moorings did not address demolition and removal of existing concrete and other structures in the river. We understand that the Port of London Authority has now issued a Demolition River Works Licence but whether the Marine Licence needs to be varied is, at least to our minds, an open question.
The structure of the car park / facilities building was completed by the end of 2021 and hoardings removed. The developer had arranged for an eastern entrance to the park by the side of the building to be opened up from April 2021 which was much appreciated.
Our principal concern, given the site's industrial history as part of the gas works, is that the moorings development proceeds with the necessary licences in place and that relevant local planning and licence conditions are satisfied. We’ll continue to monitor progress.
Music in the park
We really want to encourage people to come to the park. The Friends recently applied for grant of £1,000 from the Thriving Communities Fund to hold a series of music events on weekend afternoons in July. They’ll be Open Mic events hosted by Edwin Addis of the Hounslow Musicians Network. Kal Watrobski is making a retractable awning for the performance space to protect performers and equipment from strong sunlight and wet weather. We now have the funds and approval from the Council to hold the events which we’ll start to publicise very soon.
Friends Group finances
The Friends Group Committee decided not to require members to pay an annual subscription when the Friends were established in 2019. When Friends Group activities were primarily lobbying activities requiring time and not money this remained appropriate. But as we start to incur costs, including public liability insurance premiums, we would like members to make an annual contribution of £10 for 2022/23. There’s a resolution to seek members’ approval.
A bank account was opened with a donated deposit of £150 in July 2019. The only other transaction to date has been the receipt of the £1,000 grant from the Thriving Communities Fund in May 2022.
Friends Group Committee
The other members of the Friends Group Committee are Kal Watrobski (Secretary), Jane Dickinson and Sara Novakovic. The Committee has also had strong support from Hilary Pereira (who is also Chair of the River Thames Society Upper Tideway branch) and Ian Coates.
At this AGM, Kal and I will seek re-election on 29 June 2022.
Chair, Friends of Watermans Park
20 June 2022