A number of local residents living around Mardyke Farm have expressed concern that the long-awaited public park on the ex-landfill site will not be as promised.
In the 1950’s, Mardyke Farm was used for gravel extraction, and in the early 1960’s it was infilled with unregulated industrial toxic and contaminated waste material before being covered with a thin layer of inert landfill. In 1995 the owners had a planning application approved to landfill and restore the site as a public open space amenity. Unfortunately, it never happened until the Council were reminded it was overdue and the owners were forced to do it. Despite many false starts and extensions, completion is now imminent.
However, the landowners now want to change the original agreed plans by downgrading the proposed public tracks by replacing the original agreed gravel paths with mowed grass ones.
Mowed grass paths will require being constantly maintained by cutting (if not it will become impossible to use) and will, regardless, be much more difficult for the disabled, buggy users and others, especially when very wet. Alternatively, Gravel paths are a more permanent feature and more user friendly.
Why the change?
Locals are understandably worried that the changed plans are either driven by cost-cutting or worse i.e. that the landowners haven’t given up on building on the land?
A number of them contacted their local councillor Graham Williamson asking for support. He said “Residents have fought to get the land turned into a public park ever since the Council wanted to release it from Greenbelt for housing over a dozen years ago. I was not a councillor at that time but was involved in that campaign and subsequent ones to protect the land from development”.
He added: “Whilst we are nearly over the line, after so many years, I agree with residents that we not only want a public park but a quality one too!”
Ross Elliott, a community activist from South Hornchurch added: “I am concerned about the idea of downgrading the gravel paths to mowed ones. In the Orchard Village open green space, which borders the Mardyke Farm, they have the same mowed style paths and I am frequently informed of people falling and injuring themselves due to the lack of grip, uneven surfaces, and the huge holes in the ground. This makes it near on impossible to use safely during the winter months. I can only imagine the same will happen with this new public park. We should all be able to access and use our open spaces safely without the fear of hurting ourselves.”
You can contact Havering Council by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the number P1950.20 (Mardyke Farm).