Jenni Blatchford from the ‘Save Gooshays Green team’ writes today for the Havering Daily.
It was a chance reading of something on Facebook that brought to my attention the plans to build on the Gooshays green in Harold Hill.
What was written only implied something may happen. The same evening I knocked on my neighbour’s doors to inform them. They were all shocked but did not believe it would be true as the people of Harold Hill had not been informed, so surely they could not just take a green space away that is used daily.
After posting on Facebook which gathered some attention and caught the eye of some councillors, the next day it was confirmed that indeed the council did have a draft plan to build 64 properties on the green in the pipeline.
As a family resident in Gooshays Gardens we are against the development on Gooshays green as it will destroy another green space for future generations to enjoy. Crime, along with knife crime, has increased dramatically recently and it is no longer safe for our children to play in the local park.
There has already been a massive development within the Gooshays area, another will cause added strain on local services such as the medical centre who already see more people then they can handle with four week waiting times to see a doctor.
It will increase traffic congestion and Harold Hill already has illegal levels of pollution. This will create noise pollution, destroy habitat for wildlife and knock down twelve trees and will cause road safety issues.
It will also help to destroy the character of Harold Hill, giving an overbearing feel as the development planned is huge, with up to 200 hundred people being packed onto a small area of grass. It has also been confirmed only a small proportion are for social housing, so it can’t even be argued this is in the locality’s best interest!
I found the plans on the council’s website and printed some information on how to contact the council to oppose the plans and distributed it to local residents to make them aware, how we were all shocked and saddened that they would try to sneak such a proposal through.
I also started a Facebook group called “Save Gooshays village Green group” which provides locals with information on the campaign and ways to oppose.
Thanks to another local resident called Andy Walpole we now also have a “Friends of Gooshays Village green group” who are a group of local residents who are against the development and meet regularly to discuss action to stop the plans.
These actions have included a stall at Hildene to raise awareness and gain written oppositions (our first wave of oppositions submitted were nearly 600 in number), we have also held community meetings on the green, had a local picnic, have attended meetings with local councillor Paul McGeary.
We have distributed 5000 Friends of Gooshays Village Green newsletters all around Harold Hill to raise awareness and have teamed up with the Havering branch of Extinction Rebellion who want to stop climate change and protect our green spaces.
On Wednesday 25th September we also plan to protest at the ‘Save Our Greens’ demo outside the Town Hall to coincide with the next Full Council meeting (6.45pm).
We also have planned a “community action family day” on Saturday 28th September 11-2pm, where people can bring their own picnic. There will be fun and games with the kids on the green space, we will hold a children’s assembly on the importance of keeping our green spaces with the children’s voices submitted to all local councillors and MP’s and we will also have a road swarming to raise the urgency and awareness of the importance for our green spaces to be kept!
Below is a letter of support received from Shaun Bailey.
Dear Friends of Gooshays Village Green,
Thank you for your welcome to the community. My wife, two children and I moved here to Harold Hill three years ago, and we love it; coming here is one of the best things we’ve ever done. Our neighbours and everyone we’ve gotten to know are really great people, and we are proud to live here.
We do indeed live very locally to Gooshays Gardens, and are also concerned that the planned housing and parking development doesn’t meet the needs of our community, as it would take away much-needed green space that is vital for our quality of life. As you state in your newsletter, we need to build more homes (which is why I’ve recently launched my ambitious Housing For London plan to build the homes Londoners need) however new homes should not simply be shoe-horned into every available green space; developments need to be well thought-out in terms of access to transport and mitigating impact on the local community. I can attest to the fact that Harold Hill has absorbed a large number of housing developments over the past few years, and that the community has made us newcomers welcome.
Make no mistake; the Greater London area needs more homes. Building these homes will bring down rents and ease the housing backlog. Unfortunately, the current Mayor’s ban on building on most brownfield sites means our local councils are now being forced to build on land like Gooshays Green, and not on former industrial lands that could be make into new homes and communities. We need to prioritize building on brownfield and other government lands, and not on our village greens. We can meet our housing needs without eliminating our green space.
That’s why, for me, any development of Gooshays Gardens is a bridge too far, and I cannot see that the appropriation of this precious space will be anything other than a detriment to our local community, adding to congestion on Gooshays Drive and surrounding streets, air pollution, straining local services and most of all, robbing our community of vital green space.
I have also contacted Harold Hills mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey who lives in the quite recent development Opposite the green and he gave us his support, his response is below for your reference;
I therefore give my support to the Friends of Gooshays Gardens, standing in opposition to the development of this community green space, and have written to Asset Management Services accordingly.
Furthermore, I will contact Havering Council accordingly, and also seek the support of Julia Lopez MP.
I hope to meet you all at some point soon.