News Update 22 March 2021

On 17 March Sara Novakovic, Ian Coates and I met Andrew Moffat, of the moorings developer, representatives from the Council and Cllr Guy Lambert remotely and can provide an update as follows:

  • it is now expected that an eastern entrance will be opened up again for pedestrians at the end of the first week of April 2021. As previously advised access to the park will be by steps at the side of the car park / facilities building that is being constructed behind the hoardings.
  • a few weeks ago a pontoon was removed from the river.  This morning a vessel was alongside one of the wrecks to float and remove it.  We understand that other wrecks will be removed over the next 6 – 8 weeks. We understand this stage of the works does not include the removal of the vessel Lis which is close to the Arts Centre.
  • you may remember that the plans for the moorings include a gap roughly half-way along the park riverfront and the first phase of the development for 14 moorings will be from the east up to the gap. The riverfront for the second phase up to the Arts Centre cannot yet be assigned to the developer by the Port of London Authority and will be considered later. Nevertheless, we understand the contractual date for the completion of the moorings is the end of December 2021. 
  • TfL were not at the meeting although the Council’s transport team were.  Last month TfL told us that the construction of the westbound cycle track of CW9 in the park is not yet funded and therefore there is no agreed timing for the construction of the cycle track.  Nor has agreement been reached as to exactly where CW9 will enter the park - crossing the edge of the car park or a few metres further west.  A gentle slope will be required for cycle and pedestrian access.

It is worth repeating that a key element of the 2016 planning consent was that in addition to the moorings development there would also be enhancements to the park.  Indeed, the planning consent requires approved plans to be implemented before the moorings are operational.  Even though there isn’t a known date when CW9 will be built it is prudent that landscaping proposals assume that eventually it will be built.  This means the proposed landscaping and enhancements outlined in the planning documentation need to be reconsidered and updated to reflect the route of CW9.  For example, a proposed new stepped entrance from the High Street would no longer be viable.
It is disappointing that we do not yet have any news on the appointment of a landscape architect to co-ordinate changes to the landscaping proposals nor is there a clear timeline for submitting documentation to the Planning Authority, receiving approvals, commissioning and carrying out hard and soft landscaping works other than they need to be completed by the end of December 2021 for the moorings to be used.  Of course, that pre-supposes that at least Phase I moorings will have been built by then.  We note again that the Marine Management Organisation has yet to issue a licence for any works in the river. 
I can only repeat that once there is greater clarity on how the park enhancement proposals will be progressed we will seek input of people that are interested in the park to reflect their views.

Spring flowers

The area of the park from the western entrance between the path and wall down to the children's playground is not being mowed (again) this spring / summer 2021 to allow wildflowers and grasses to grow.  There hasn't been any special planting - we would just like to see what grows and hope for colourful spring flowers that will help support pollinating insects and can be enjoyed in their own right   Many thanks to Elizabeth Morton for her suggestion.  Elizabeth will monitor the patch and keep a record of what grows over the season and we'll display photos on the Friends website.
Friends Annual General Meeting
An agenda and papers for the meeting to be held on Tuesday 30 March 2021 will be circulated separately, along with login details, by close Tuesday 23 March 2021.