The Friends of Beckenham Place Park

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About the Friends and the Future of the Park

The Friends of Beckenham Place Park set their values by aims which are intended to protect the park as a place of leisure and nature conservation in line with its status as a local nature reserve.

When we established the Friends group it was at the same time that Councillor John Rudd of Lewisham (an ex-mayor of the Borough) had established the Beckenham Place Park Working Party of interested stakeholders to discuss matters concerning the future of the park. The Friends was a founding member of that group.

Over the years we had differences of opinion with Lewish Council through its officers but also a lot of common ground about the welfare of the park.

We strived for better use of the Mansion for public enjoyment and it is arguable that that has been achieved via the lease of the Mansion to RJK properties but we would also have some issues about some of the uses of the premises and the effect on heritage features of the building.

We aimed to increase public awareness of the park and encourage its access by the public and that has been achieved but at the expense of one type of user, the golfers, by the main replacement of another category of user, the dog walkers.

Lewisham Council decided to dissolve the Working Party because the Friends did not refrain from telling them that we did not agree with all the features of the Parks for People Lottery Funded scheme.

If we had been consulted on plans we may have commented on some details of the plans such as having a paddling area of the lake which suddenly drops to 3 metres in depth or a drainage system in the valley which now has no defined system of water flow resulting in large swampy areas of the valley.

Even though we have been excluded from discussion processes we have continued to maintain the Sensory Garden which was achieved with funding attracted through the Friends. We have also facilitated the attraction of funding for restoration of the Ancient Pond amounting to about 50,000 for dredging and construction of a viewing platform.

We managed a volunteer run Visitor Centre from 1995 until March 2020 when no other facility was in place by the Council and the Visitor Centre inspired at least one other local group to do the same in another park.

Friends groups are generally welcomed for their volunteer input into local parks and often local knowledge can advise policy from day to day observations of problems and faults in parks.

Old Content:

Updated 21/1/2017

The aims of the Friends of Beckenham Place Park (FBPP) are to conserve and promote the heritage, environmental and educational aspects of the park. To that end we have tried to engage with the landlord, London Borough of Lewisham and any parties involved with the park.
Of late we have been accused of being negative because we haven't fully supported several aspects of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid (HLF) and now its time to explain our position.
One of our aims was to support the 18 hole public pay and play golf course because a) it was in place when we inaugurated. b) we had been part of a campaingn to stop increased golf footprint and indoor tennis centre on the public open space of the park. c) it was, if managed properly, an acceptable low impact activity which ensured the continued open space parkland.
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the consultation and council decision to close the golf course it was done on the understanding that the HLF bid was to restore the heritage landscape such as 1) rebuild the stable block to be an education resource and cafe. 2) Rebuild the artificial lake which had by degrees dried up and been filled in. 3) restore the 18th century parkland landscape including the removal of some trees delineating the golf course.
To start with the 'agreed' aims of the HLF scheme, the stable block either needs rebuilding or removing and though much of its heritage value is destroyed by the fire rebuilding would provide an acceptable use and one which was suggested before the fire as a use of the building. Restoring the landscape is subjective as some trees were planted in living memory to enhance the golf course but now they are maturing and of some environmental value though the straight lines may not please all eyes. However, on this point the plan to remove some trees to remove the straight lines is now a redundant target as recent planting of 15000 'whips' or sapplings has been in straight lines and not 'to my eyes' a pleasing feature or one which would have been part of an 18th century parkland landscape feature. The great landscape gardeners of that age went to great lengths to emulate nature. Now we have large areas of 'plantation' akin to forestry commission forests and it will take at least 20 years for them to begin to resemble a natural landscape. The reason for the straight line planting is to enable mowing control of ground cover which might compete with the saplings. This involves the regular intrusion of staff pushing mowers between the saplings which is like to cause as much damage to plants as allowing other vegetation to grow alongside the saplings. Add to that the labour cost of mowing with a small garden type mower between 15000 plants and compare that to the cost of managing the golf course which was unacceptable to the council.
Restoring the lake is a debatable subject. Originally there was a stream running through the park from what is now the St Mary's School playground where there was a spring and pond which supplied the stream which was utilized to fill the lake.   Back in the 1780's which is the approximate date of the lake there was no housing around the spring and pond area so water supply was, we assume, reliable.  We have noticed even over the last 20 years that the stream is increasing dry and now only wet after significant rainfall.  The pond in the playground is filled in and housing is across the route of the stream. If any ground water still exists in this area maybe it gets diverted into a sewer but certainly isn't enough to supply a large lake. Even so managing a lake can be labour intensive and expensive both of which the landlord hasn't shown the ability to provide.
On the management of bid about 300k was spent on the first stage of the bid to provide consultation and outline plans with assessments on environmental impact, species and tree surveys, ground surveys etc. This included extensive detailed plans of the intended rebuild of the stable block and the landscaping of the grounds.#
Now that the grant of 5 million is approved a second tendering for 'designers' is underway when much of the work has already been done by the original consultants Land Use Consultants (LUC).  If LUC aren't appoiinted in this stage their work I guess will be binned and the new firm will start from scratch? or duplicate a lot of the already performed work.   To me this seems an outrageously wasteful use of financing which has come out of the public purse via the Lottery.
Now let's address the relationship if any between the Landlord and the public who use the park.

Heritage Lottery Fund scheme (HLF)

Although The Friends of BPP have supported public golf as part of our aims we have to live with the realities of circumstances.  We will be aiming to influence some of th e future plans in the interest of what we believe are the conservation of important elements of the park.
We have to admit there are elements of the plan that we have been pushing for for a long time. Its a popular view that the lake might be a waste of money as the previous one dried and became overgrown. Ongoing maintenance of some elements is a concern but the HLF require assurances that there will be maintenance for a considerable period.

We are putting links here to the Lewisham Planning portal documents and reproducing some content in the proposed plans.   Lewisham  Planning portal.

The Heritage Lottery Fund approved the grant of 4.9 million (see article in January newsletter from Alison Taylor, Project Manager for London Borough of Lewisham.

One question outstanding is what amount Lewisham will have to contribute to match funding and would that be part of the 4.9m or additional. In the past mention has been made of additional money for garden cottage but some clarification would help understand the situation.
The Mayor took the decision back in February 2016 to close the golf course which took effect at the end of October 2016 despite the campaign to have the decision reviewed or reversed.

Broadly, the HLF scheme proposes to restore (almost a rebuild) the main stable block which was mostly destroyed by fire. The building would house a cafe and  education centre. part of the plan shown below, more available in the full document.


The Gardens and curtilage around the stable block and mansion referred to as the pleasure grounds of the 18th century estate are to be 'regenerated'.
his would involve the removal of tennis courts, A play area is planned also the reconstruction of a lake on part of the original lake site with a wet woodland area on another part of the old lake bed.  Nearly all of the old lake bed had dried up and reverted to woodland.
The golf course landscape is planned to change by removing some trees forming barriers between fairways and level off greens, tees, bunkers.  Some new paths are planned around the periphery of the park, resurfacing of some existing paths.  Tree planting and some natural regeneration of woodland is planned for parts of the golf course.  In the distant past some woodland had been cleared to extend the golf course as had parts of the filled in lake. We will attempt to rewrite the History page to include recent events.


The main gate lodge (Southend Lodge) is the maintenance area for the park, the facade will be improved and machinery etc. is planned to be removed to the rear of the lodge. The Garden Cottage is planned to become a volunteer hub. Details of plans are in the planning portal documents.
The carpark in front of the mansion is planned to be removed and redesigned while replacement parking would be almost opposite the stable yard.

Other detail....


Old page content

These links show documents from a previous consultation process.

Park gets Lottery money  

Conservation Action Plan

Possible future uses for BPP Mansion
Environment Agency flood alleviation scheme

Lottery Bids and Flood Alleviation Scheme

The most recent 'masterplan' on Lewisham's website is here

We urge people to make their views known either on the email address or by post to Gavin Plaskitt at lewisham council and copy to the Mayor, Sir Steve Bullock.

Unfortunately in these days of supposed austerity, parks are at the forefront of cost cutting within Local Authorities.  However Central Government can find in excess of 40 billion for a railway no one wants and  a floral bridge is proposed across the Thames the cost of which would pay for all London parks maintenance for God knows how many years. So like like a pauper with a credit card the authorities are reckless with taxpayer money at the expense of the day to day housekeeping. 

The two major schemes which will affect Beckenham Place Park are progressing but we endeavour to keep you informed so look at recent newsletter for current information. click here for old newsletters archive

We don't oppose the schemes in principal but currenty there seems to be a lot of destruction of valuable environment before any gains are realised. 

Elements of the Schemes have changed since the original concept.   As well as closing the golf course, the tennis courts will be closed and not reconstructed nearby as it is stated that there is enough tennis in other parks and facilities nearby (no matter that this will discourage the occasional player who wants a game but doesn't want to commit to lessons/coaching/membership of a scheme). Apart from a planned BMX cycle track and skateboard area there is no other sport facility planned. So much for olympic legacy.

To clarify our position we oppose the closing of the 18 hole golf course and question the cost and usage assessments the council has produced. We oppose the restoration of the lake on its original footprint because the water supply no longer existes and large areas of now established woodland would have to be cleared. A lake could be created on the flood alleviation site as this is grassland former football pitches, and would have to be excavated to provide material for the flood scheme landscaping.  The event ground indicated on the initial plans is too close to neighbouring housing and no plans for its operation have been presented. Creating features in the park to get people to go where they normally wouldn't want to go seems illogical.  

Destroying woodland areas as part of the flood alleviation scheme on this almost natural stretch of the Ravensbourne should be minimised or avoided. Similarly, under the lottery bid scheme proposals to restore the lake would also require large scale destruction of what is now established woodland. The Friends of BPP will attempt to promote ideas which we see as achievable and low impact on natural environment. The priority of conserving the mansion is not part of current schemes but expected to be the subject of another lottery bid in at least a years time.  We would have preferred the mansion to have been a first contender for funding.

Strangely, over the past 25 years the mood has changed from increasing golf activity under the infamous David Lloyd Leisure proposal to what is now a determined intention to remove golf completely. It is hotly contested that the golf is both not as underused as the Council claim and is not as expensive to them to maintain as they claim. A driving force for closure of the golf course is that English Herittage prefer that the mansion stands in parkland as in the 18th century, but the house and estate were then private land and not a public park so achieving a 'heritage landscape' is unreasonable in the 21st century.

Formerly, the Mayor of Lewisham rejected bids relating to the last tender process, some aspects of the rejection were related to the failure to attract a bidder for park management and refurbishment of the stable block and the subsequent fire in the stable block.

Since then and dating from about June of 2013 a council officer has been authorised to formulate bids for Heritage Lottery Fund programs.

The bids will relate to finding a sustainable future for refurbished heritage buildings and for improvements to the infrastructure of the park.

The Friends still believe there is a future for the buildings as venues for events and potential for educational resources as well as housing catering and park use functions.

The Environment Agency have been evaluating flood alleviation schemes along the Ravensbourne River catchment area and this could affect plans to make improvements in the park.
We were optimistic regarding the intentions of the Council to attract funding and hope to have more information on progress (October 2013) but the Council have revived intentions to close the golf course and in the view of many have contrived to get consultations to support their intentions as well as misrepresented the level of use of the golf course.

Coincidentally, there is national concern about the future of parks due to lack of funding through councils and the Governments drive to force councils to reduce spending generally.  Maybe all parks should be declared part of a fragmented National Park and cared for by a National body as has been suggested by a forum of parks' Friends groups.  

Following are some comments received from Lewisham Council officer and The Environment Agency regarding current proposals, We emphasise 'proposals' as matters are subject to change. Hopefully some park users' questions will be answered by the comments.

Information from Lewisham Council officers and Environment Agency regarding proposed Lottery scheme and Flood Alleviation Scheme.

I have edited some content for clarification and hopefully these points will answer some of your questions. It is important to keep in mind that both schemes are in early stages and both subject to further public consultation.  Most recent comments nearest the top of the text.

From Lewisham Council officer managing the Lottery Bids


Regarding a question about the money received so far. The best way to think of the award is that the second stage money is loosely ring-fenced for the project. We have access to the first stage money now (an amount to facilitate preparation of the 2nd stage bid and not for any works in the park) and will only get access to the second stage money if our second round bid remains as compelling as our first round bid. So if for example the stage 2 bid did not appear to benefit a wide range of users the HLF may say they don’t think the cost benefit ratios work and either send us back to the drawing board to amend, or reallocate the money to something they feel is more worthwhile.


August 2015 is a target for the round 2 bid but there are reasons that might make it more desirable to submit 6 months later, I’m weighing these up at the moment and the HLF appear happy with either scenario.


August 2014

It’s early days for the next stage but I anticipate that we’ll be in a position to submit the next stage proposal for Parks for People in August 2015.  There’ll be more consultation to develop ideas further throughout this period and also when considering options for the mansion.


We want to increase the range of volunteer activity in the park and to make this more rewarding in recognition of the significant input that volunteers can have on the space. That’s why our proposal includes the restoration of the gardener’s cottage as a volunteering hub for the park, a social space where people can meet before, during or after work for refreshments or to socialise. This space at the heart of a restored homesteads and pleasure grounds will give volunteers an opportunity to interact with users and foster new volunteers. I’ve also made provision for equipment and training for volunteers and for a volunteer co-ordinator to be employed for a three year period to launch this initiative.


On the flooding front  the EA scheme is designed to meet and manage the more likely flood scenarios.  (I had asked if any restoration of the lake would negatively impact the flood scheme as the lake outlet is across the east of the park)



(response to our comments) 

Thanks for that note, which contains some useful thoughts and questions. I’ll leave it to the EA to address the issues raised about their proposals on the east side of the park for the time being.


In respect of proposals for the west side (of park and railway) I can confirm no conservation/ecological impact assessment has been carried out at this stage as it is deemed unnecessary until stage 2.  However LUC did meet with Council Conservation Officer to discuss thoughts about key ecological issues and the site did have a walk over survey by ecologists at LUC at Stage 1 to flag up any further issues. This will be followed by a full survey at the outset of Phase 2 work and we will of course adapt and refine ideas, where on balance we think changes are desirable. We’re aware that encouraging more visitors whilst minimising negative impacts is a balancing act but think good results can be achieved for human and non-human lifeforms. The ecology survey will inform these considerations.


(Regarding question re impact on flood scheme of restoring lake) The EA are aware of the proposal to recreate the lake on the west side of the park and have raised no concerns about the impact of this on their scheme.

 I think the issue of woodland quality and woodland management is something we’ll have to get into more in Phase 2. From speaking to Conservation Officer there are clearly areas where improved management is necessary and should have long term environmental benefits. However it may be beneficial to carry this out over many years to minimise impact and I’ll take advice from experts on this.

 I can assure you that both the HLF and EA schemes are being evaluated alongside each other, it has not been easy to make this explicit, because until very recently we did not know whether our HLF proposal would be successful.

 In order to get the views of people who sit on the working party we’ve invited those members along to the consultation sessions on options for the park and on the EA flood alleviation scheme. At these sessions everyone on the working party has access to the officers from the Council and EA and any consultants working on the schemes so that any queries can be properly addressed. This is a far more efficient use of our resources (at a time when they are particularly stretched), allowing you all access to the key people, at a time when your views can help shape direction and way forward.

 Whilst we value the knowledge and views of the working party, they are not the only views we need to take on board and I am keen to hear the views of a wide range of local people of all ages so that the park becomes more relevant and better used by the wider community. This is not an attempt to sideline the group, it is merely a way of broadening out the number of people who can express a view, and making sure this is more representative, as not everyone cares for formal committee meetings or feels they can speak freely at them.


The following are from Environment Agency exchanges

Re: Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation

Thank you for your enquiry which was received on 15 August 2014.

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

We would be pleased to take up your offer to meet with the Friends group to discuss our proposal. We will contact you at the start of September to organise a suitable date.


At this stage our flood alleviation proposal is an outline concept. We hope to refine it and turn it into reality, however, there is no guarantee at this point that it will happen. At this stage we are tasked with identifying if a scheme of this type is viable in principle. The recreation facilities shown on the outline plan are indicative only. The location and amount of features such as footpaths and recreation facilities and how this relates to the habitats would be worked through should the proposal move to detailed design. If the proposal is taken forward to a detail design stage there will be additional public consultation opportunities as well. Our outline business case will be completed at the end of this year and we will be looking to make a decision as to whether to further progress the flood alleviation scheme spring 2015. Should we decide to continue with the proposal works on site may begin at the earliest from late 2016.


Questions in relation to the Heritage Lottery Fund proposals to the west of the railway line would be best directed to London Borough of Lewisham as they are leading on that project. Their project for wider park works will also be undertaking future public consultation where the initial concepts will start to be refined into a more detailed proposal.

I have attached our Standard Notice which explains how you can use this information.

Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

Customers and Engagement Officer

Environment Agency, Kent and South London


Our email to Env. Agency

From: bpp . friends []
Sent: 15 August 2014 10:43
To: KSL Enquiries
Subject: Re: KSL140731JB233 (Previous ref KSL140708JB63) Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation


Thank you for the earlier detailed response, however, the impact on habitats is not fully addressed particularly in relation to increased public access pathways. 

Perhaps you would clarify the next steps for us as many think this is the main consultation. We had an initial introduction some time ago, this recent process has gone out to the wider public but still includes some generalisations rather than fine detail. 

As there would be further consultation on detailed plans can we request that notice is given or meetings arranged so that we may involve local experts with a knowledge of the habitats eg the old lake is now willow carr and woodland. The heritage landscape was prior to the railway and before the flood area was infilled with rubble and before the ancient woodland was reduced so any heritage restoration would be selective and limited. Also the estate was private and not subject to over use or access. While we encourage access and appreciation of this environmental asset , over use would destroy many of its features, already there are problems with park abusers rather than considerate appreciative visitors.

We hope to be proactive in the future of the park but some people involved in current plans only regard it as a piece of real estate for exploitation


Thank you


Mal mitchell for FBPP


-------- Original message --------
From KSL Enquiries <>
Date: 14/08/2014 13:21 (GMT+00:00)
To bpp friends <>
Subject KSL140731JB233 (Previous ref KSL140708JB63) Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation

Re: Reducing flood risk in Lewisham – Consultation

 Thank you for your enquiry which was received on 31 July 2014.

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Thank you for your comments on our outline proposal. It is useful to have the input of someone who is clearly passionate about the park and has a detailed knowledge of it. In answer to the questions in your email:

Partnership working with the London Borough of Lewisham

We are working in partnership with the London Borough of Lewisham to ensure that both our proposed flood alleviation works and the wider park enhancements from the Heritage Lottery Fund proposal complement each other. Currently both projects are at the outline concept stage. As they progress we will ensure that the necessary details are adequately resolved.

 When undertaking any future detailed design for the flood alleviation proposal a careful balance of enhanced biodiversity and recreation will need to be found. This will be informed by further ecological surveys and public consultation. The input of local residents and park user will be welcome and valued.

As existing play facilities at the north of the park would need to be removed to accommodate the proposed embankment, replacement facilities would need to be included. Our intention is to link the design of play facilities with the council’s Heritage Lottery Fund work.


The concept of recreating the large lake to the west of the railway line is one of the ideas to be investigated further as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund work which is being led by the council. Their thinking behind the concept is around recreating historic features of the park and is therefore not likely to be situated in an alternative location. The lake remains a concept at this point and will need to be considered further through the detailed design work that the council undertakes for the Heritage Lottery Fund work. The Environment Agency oversees the management of water abstraction licences for river or aquifer. In due course, should the lake be taken forward to their detailed design stage, the council will be seeking advice from us on the acceptability of water abstraction to supply it.


As part of our initial outline design work we have been identifying existing drainage routes through to the eastern part of the park to ensure that they are accommodated within later detailed design work. It has also been beneficial to have your local knowledge help inform this work.



To ensure that Thames Water can continue to maintain their existing sewers and drinking water supply pipes through the park we are required to keep the foot of our proposed embankment a minimum distance from their sewer and water supply pipes. We are only allowed to cross over these pipes for the minimum amount required to get from one side to the other to minimise the impact on them. The sewer runs in a roughly northerly direction where we would have ideally liked to have located the embankment. Unfortunately it is not feasible to move the position of these pipes as part of our proposal. As a result we have had to shift the proposed location of the embankment westward towards the river. It is for this reason that we are indicating on our outline plan that it is likely we will need to realign a short section of the river in the centre of the park. Our intention is to keep any loss of existing river at this location to a minimum as we agree that it is valuable section of the Ravensbourne. The future detailed design of any realignment will be informed by ecological and geomorphological surveys, local consultation and our experience from similar river projects. We are confident that after the initial impact of the construction work, once re-established, the realigned river could be as good, or better than existing.


As you rightfully identify, the ground naturally rises as you move south through the park. For the flood storage area to safely retain water the top of the embankment has to be set at a minimum fixed height above sea level. Therefore, due to the existing ground levels at the park, it would be at its maximum height above the existing ground levels at its northern end. As it moves south it gradually reduces in size until it meets existing ground that is at the same fixed height as the rest of the embankment.


For the majority of its length the exact form of the embankment can be landscaped to make it appear like natural hills. Its appearance is something that would be resolved if the proposal progresses to detailed design.



Contamination from road surfaces is typically at its highest concentration at the start of a storm incident, as the first flush of rainfall washes oils into an initially smaller volume of water. As the storm continues and water volumes increase the concentration of road contaminants tend to be lower as they become more dispersed so posing less of a risk. Flooding of the park would only occur once the river flow has exceeded a certain rate. By this time the first flush of water should have already passed downstream.


We believe there to be no long term impact to the park by the temporary storage of flood water. Flooding of the park would be very infrequent, with, on average, many years between incidents. We would expect water to be safely stored within the park approximately for less than one day during each incident. Some silt and debris may be deposited in parts of the park during flood. Prior to completion of flood alleviation schemes we agree and set up arrangements with land owners as to who and how clearance of this is managed. Ground levels would be amended where necessary to enable free draining of the water back into the river channel once the flood has passed, preventing longer term ponding. Following a flood, access to affected areas may have to be temporarily restricted until the ground has drained and debris has been removed.


Development and flood risk

Our primary aim with this proposal is to reduce risk to those currently at risk. The London Borough of Lewisham take flood risk into consideration when assessing the need for development in accordance with national planning policy and their own local flood risk planning policies. This is informed by their Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and each development proposal’s own site specific flood risk assessment. The council will only allow development where it can be demonstrated that it is safe and will not increase flood risk to others.


The council is in the process of producing a ‘River Corridor Improvement Plan’ which sets out their vision for riverside development. They intend to have a public consultation on this document soon. We recommend that you keep in touch with their planning policy team so that you aware of when this consultation occurs.


I have also attached our Standard Notice which explains how you can use this information.


Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

Customers and Engagement Officer

Environment Agency, Kent and South London


From: bpp friends []
Sent: 31 July 2014 10:20
To: KSL Enquiries
Subject: Re: KSL140708JB63 Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation


thank you for the reply on the pollution issue, I’m copying here my comments on the scheme as I was unable to get to a consultation session.

One of our committee members did attend and was told the scheme was being assessed with the input of the Friends of Beckenham Place Park, we have not had an official approach outside of the public consultation sessions.

As we have long and intimate knowledge of the park we think we have something to offer e.g. knowing that reinstatement of a pond is impracticable  due to landscape.

The opportunity to discuss the scheme on site might be fruitful.


My comments....


Flood Alleviation Scheme Summerhouse Field and Common – Beckenham Place Park

M.Mitchell / Friends of BPP

Impact of park ‘lottery bid’ changes

This scheme is not without faults and damaging aspects although it could carry the opportunity for improvements. Briefly, habitats would be destroyed and new ones victim to increased disturbance from increased paths and installations. Lewisham intend restoring the lake in the  west of the park and this seasonal wet area would then overflow into the flood storage area. Has consideration been made of these two schemes impact on one another. Watershed from the west is not considered in the scheme.  The water from the west accumulates in the usually dry old lake bed and if necessary overflows via a sluice under the railway and foreseen flood area.  As the lottery bid intends large excavations to restore the lake, shouldn’t the excavations take place to create a lake  in the flood area where water is already available from the Ravensbourne. The intended drilling of a borehole to supply the lake would increase waterflow over the flood area.


The scheme offers some opportunity to improve and regenerate wildlife habitats and make the river corridor more bio-diverse. A fear is that it will be in the form of a landscape architects vision and not be allowed to be (as far as possible) a wild or naturally occurring development and that seems to be the result in the latest plans. The removal of river toe boards some years ago has allowed the existing river banks to adopt a more natural profile particularly in the northern part. The main ‘unnatural  feature’ being the stone channelling at the northern end where it approaches Brangbourne Road.

The degree of re-routing of the river indicated seems to require the destruction of some already attractive and near natural river stretches and habitats. As does the bund with additional footpaths  and public access. Illegal motorbike access is already a problem in the park.

The ‘Former’ Goan Sports Ground – in the extreme south of the plan the area annotated as ‘former pond excavated’  ‘grassland habitat improved’ and ‘possible link into park from Green chain walk’.  As far as we know this land is still owned by The Goan Association that used to have a functioning sports ground here.  The land fell into disuse as a sports ground and the pavilion burned down through vandalism. At some time in the not too distant past a planning application was made for housing and if that application is on file then the landowner is recorded? Otherwise I believe landowners can be traced via the Land Registry. The land is obviously flood plain as well as Metropolitan Open Land.  If the ownership is under London Borough of Lewisham it would be an ideal link between Beckenham Place Park/Summerhouse Field and Warren Avenue Playing Field as well as encompassing a link to the Green Chain Walk which borders Warren Avenue Field.

The former pond described here however is as I understand it a mill or water engine pond above the level of the river here and was fed by a sluice taken from further up the river when the land was an estate under what is now Bromley Court Hotel as indicated on 1870 OS map. Substantial woodland has developed on the raised land, again a valuable wildlife habitat.

I’m tempted to believe that some elements of the design may have been from studying maps rather than a comprehensive survey on the ground.

The ‘grassland habitat’ on the old Goan sports ground adjacent to Millwall training ground and Warren Avenue probably doesn’t need ‘improvement’ as it has developed naturally from overgrown/reclaimed by nature playing field. Some park users and walkers obviously have created desire lines across the area so it fulfils a leisure function even if ‘unofficially’. The natural succession taking place on this land is in itself  attractive and biologically diverse. Disturbing the site would at least have the short term effect of destroying habitat.


The route of the banking or levees seems to have changed from the original plans but  in a couple of areas, to the east,  I wonder why the  bank cannot remain to the east of the current river route and more closely follow the park boundary and leave the river as little disturbed as possible.  I believe the rerouting of the river in the Warren Avenue playing field and Goan Ground areas may be advantageous but the residents and tenants in that area may disagree.

Having the levee cross the river route and requiring a rerouting of the river as well as rerouting the path/cycleway seems an unnecessary complication? I’m aware that a main sewer follows the river and crosses it in this vicinity but it seems the banking will follow or cross the sewer as well. The sewer seems to be the source of some unpleasant smells along the eastern boundary of the park here possibly due to the absence of stacks to vent the sewer and only a couple of manholes with ventilation grills? Is this ‘kink’ in the route merely to avoid having to do anything to the sewer cover?

I presume permission has been acquired from Millwall FC for parts of the scheme on their land. As part of the flood plain it does make an ideal temporary overflow area but see points about pollution.



The increase indicated in the number of constructed pathways implies that there will be more human ingress into habitat areas therefore habitat will be reduced overall. It should be sufficient to have a path on only one side of the river to retain habitat e.g. kingfisher nest sites

River route

The plans don’t show a cross section of the site from north to south showing the amount by which the river inclines. OS maps show a 5 metre rise in the land approximately from Brangbourne Road to Ravensmead Road.  This implies that bunds don’t need to be hardly any height at all in the south and allowing for the fact that the river is generally at least a metre below ground level at Brangbourne Road I question the need for bunds to be as high as indicated e.g. 3m? Also the drawn bund outline  is rather straight and unnatural and I would hope that some curvature would be part any final design.




We recently witnessed the river in flood or spate after a local storm and it seems the river carries road run-off at these times and the water is dirty with a stagnant or oily smell. What are the pollution implications for the land if water carrying unknown substances flows over the site.

Isn’t there a danger that London Borough of Lewisham will feel more secure from flooding and allow more building on other areas of the flood plain particularly between Bell Green and Catford Bridge. Wouldn’t it be safer in the long run to make flood risk areas ‘no go’ so far as building goes.

As water flows downhill and ‘finds its own level’ I guess the assumption is that the southern end of Summerhouse Field is higher than the northern end of the Common which is probably true of the river bed. But as various parts of the Common have been infilled this may not be the case?

Is it intended that the levees would be low profile in the southern part and rise to maximum height at the northern part? A cross-section drawing from North to South of the whole site indicating ground levels and levee levels would be informative for any consultation process. The two cross sections provided seem to indicate a higher levee along the north edge than adjacent to the working men’s club (based on different ground levels?).

I appreciate this is a consultation plan but the dead straight line of the levee to the east is potentially unattractive as well as the gap between the levee and the boundary fence would be ‘unattractive’ unless just a wooded area. Since there is a high fence already it makes one wonder whether a water retaining ‘wall’ would be practicable here (I saw one being  constructed as flood defence along the Waters of Leith in Edinburgh recently). Since any excavation along this line would require the removal of trees and avoidance of the sewer  it might be a more practicable solution.

Summerhouse Field – proposed Sports pitches:  The former pavilion burnt down as a result of abandonment and vandalism so a new pavilion in this area would be ‘at risk’. Transport and access is better in the area of the currently disused changing rooms  by Old Bromley Road entrance and near the play area.  Sports pitches in that area were ‘busy’ at one time and a regeneration of sport in that area would probably be a better option. Also, the bank/levee offers a form of bund for spectators.

A wetland area is a desirable feature, it’s regrettable that the old lake bed is to the west of the railway, otherwise routing water across Summerhouse field, under the railway and into the lake bed might have been possible. There is still an outflow from part of the lake bed under the common, in the form of an underground pipe (as we understand it). As Martin Hyde mentioned at the meeting there are some drainage pipes under the railway to drain Summerhouse Wood/Crab Hill/Railway Field in the west onto the flood plain.

The suggestion of a cycleway along the top of the levee I consider to be a bad idea and might encourage illegal motorcycle activity in the park, this has been a problem and nuisance. A narrow footpath would probably develop as a desire line even if no formal path was installed.

The current recently constructed shared footpath/cycleway offers considerable access to the river, the main concern is over-use of the river corridor which may be wildlife ‘unfriendly’. The path was put in at some expense and disruption and it seems a waste of money to reroute it if at all avoidable.

The point raised at the working party about interfered lines of sight does raise some concern but as the sight lines can be obstructed by woodland maybe it is not too serious.

The working mens club is ‘private’ property separate from the park although obviously on land which was once part of the park and the setting is ‘their responsibility’.

There is an under-5’s playgroup building adjacent to the river and only acknowledged as a ‘play area’. Unless it is accepted that this might flood then it would require demolishing and rebuilding (although currently under-used and often vandalised). Maybe if playing field changing rooms were ‘regenerated’ the playgroup facility might be moved. Having the existing building ‘within’ the bounds of the levees would obscure it from sight and perhaps increase the vandalism it suffers.

Although there is a desire to increase the number of visitors to the park it should be kept in mind that it is a Local Nature Reserve and over-use would be to the detriment of its habitat value. Having too may paths might be detrimental and there should be meadow areas built into the plan. Some success has been achieved in the management of Crab Hill grassland on the western side of the railway.

If any improvement to access is needed it would be a footbridge over the railway in the southern part of the park as the only route here is by leaving the park and re-entering via Ravensbourne Avenue and the railway bridge by Ravensbourne station.

The railway embankment in Summerhouse Field seems to offer some form of levee here as we are only expecting this scheme to be required for extreme flooding events.



Malvin Mitchell,   Friends of Beckenham Place Park


From: KSL Enquiries

Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 2:18 PM


Subject: KSL140708JB63 Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation


Dear Mr Mitchell

Re: Reducing flood risk in Lewisham – Consultation


Thank you for your enquiry which was received on 7 July 2014.

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

I understand our Partnership and Strategic Overview team have contacted you directly with information about the Beckenham Place flood alleviation scheme. Please let me know if you need any more information about this.

We are unaware of any pollution implications regarding this scheme. Our local Environment Management team will review the contractors’ proposed working methodologies before work begins to ensure all pollution prevention measures are put in place. If there are any causes for concern we will arrange a site visit to discuss these risks. We may arrange water quality monitoring during the project if this is considered to be necessary.


The Ravensbourne stretch flowing through Beckenham Place Park is part of the Ravensbourne (Keston-Catford) waterbody. We are responsible for assessing the ecological and chemical status of waterbodies under the Water framework Directive (WFD). The 2013 assessment shows that this waterbody is achieving GOOD status under WFD for chemical parameters including dissolved oxygen, phosphate and ammonia. The waterbody is achieving only POOR status for biological elements including fish and invertebrates. This is likely to be due to the urbanised nature of most of the catchment and the resulting degradation of the natural river habitat.


We do not have any regular monitoring of water chemistry in Beckenham Place Park itself. Our routine monitoring site is upstream to the south of Bromley so will not be entirely representative of the stretch through the park. The Ravensbourne catchment as a whole often experiences intermittently poor water quality during heavy rainfall events following dry periods. This is due to the urbanised nature of the catchment and subsequent run-off picking up accumulated hydrocarbons and silts. Storm discharges from the public sewer system may also occur during periods of heavy rain. These occur when the sewers are unable to cope with the high flows and spill diluted screened sewage into watercourses.


Should you notice a potential pollution incident please report this to us on our incident hotline, which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 807060.


I have attached our Standard Notice which explains how you can use this information.


Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

Customers and Engagement Officer

Environment Agency, Kent and South London


From: e-mail bpp.friends []
Sent: 04 July 2014 09:13
To: planning policy
Subject: Re: Reducing flood risk in Lewisham - Consultation

 Is there a water quality study survey for the ravensbourne at this point, I notice that the water is dirty with unpleasant smell at times of flash flood risk presumably due to road run off. What are the pollution implications?
Are full details of the scheme available on line or digitally
m.mitchell for friends of bpp

On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, planning policy <> wrote:
> Dear Sir / Madam

> This year the London Borough of Lewisham is working with the Environment Agency on a number of different flood and river related projects, including preparing plans to improve our rivers and proposals to reduce flood risk. We will be asking for your views on these different projects over the course of the year.

> The first of these projects is the flood alleviation scheme lead by the Environment Agency. Approximately 1,400 homes and businesses are within the floodplain of the River Ravensbourne and Honor Oak Stream between Catford and Lewisham. Of these, approximately 400 homes and 280 businesses are at ‘high’ or ‘medium’ risk of river flooding.

> The Environment Agency has been working with the London Borough of Lewisham to investigate ways to reduce this risk in the area. The proposal is a combination of three elements:

> 1.            Floodwater storage at Beckenham Place Park
> 2.            Works on the Honor Oak Stream in Ladywell
> 3.            Localised works to existing river walls through Lewisham

> The Environment Agency is keen to share the outline plans with the community and hear your views. To do this they will be holding a number of drop-in events in the area where feedback from the local community will help to shape the final scheme.