Gold for Dukes Meadows But Anger Over Parking Bays

Award from London in Bloom comes as grass verges lost to facilitate coaches

The area by the Bandstand is being dug up for hardstanding
The area by the Bandstand is being dug up for hardstanding

The Dukes Meadows Trust has received a Gold award from London in Bloom this week but celebrations were marred by the commencement of work to place new parking bays by the riverside.

The Trust is entirely responsible for maintenance and management of the Splash pool and maintains the shrubs, trees and plants in the play area and cuts the hedge it planted along Riverside Drive. It has continues to enhance the park, most recently by planting a new avenue of lime trees in the park but believes its efforts are being undermined by the council.

Parts of the grass verge near the Band Stand is being dug up by the council, to create new parking bays and reserve an existing area of hard standing for coaches.

Dukes Meadows Trust Chair Paul Davis explained, “The council refused to respond to reasonable requests for information, so the Trust was obliged to submit an FOI. That revealed the council had no evidence of the need for coach parking or dropping off points on the riverside and had not considered the public safety implications of having coaches backing onto the Promenade. The parking bays were not in the masterplan, which the council displayed 4 years ago, so we wanted to know where they came from. The master plan promised better pedestrian and cycle access, but those plans have been ditched. All requests to meet on site to discuss the plans were refused.”

In repose to the FOI, the council acknowledged that, “the plan recently provided, included text which implied measures were being introduced to assist coaches but that isn’t the primary aim. Colleagues noted that the plan makes reference to ‘existing informal parking area converted to double yellow lines to assist turning coaches and for boarding/alighting of coach passengers’ which might help explain concerns that we are encouraging coach parking, turning in this area. The team will be amending the plan and will alter that text accordingly.”

The Trust says that having previously advised that a tree report had been undertaken to assess the impact of on trees, the council has now admitted that it had no such report. It advised that a representative from Hounslow Highways, not an arborist, informed that, “Tree roots not to be touched, but to be built over, During the works no further compaction (or limited) than already created from the vehicles parking on the grass.”

The Trust believes that it is clearly evident that roots are being dug up to lay the parking bays and not being “built over”. The Trust adds that it has offered to pay for an arborist’s report but the council did not respond to the offer.

Mr Davis continued, “Our only wish is to improve and care for the park we love. Sadly, we find ourselves in the same position as Friends of Boston Manor; having to fight destructive plans that waste public money, are not in the interests of ordinary park users, and breach many of the council’s own policies on protecting the public from traffic, protecting green space and encouraging cycling and walking.

“We have recently become aware that the council has awarded itself a large sum of money to further develop the Promenade. These plans have not been created in consultation with our Trust or any members of the public. The council will not share the plans.

“Anyone who cares about the park should lobby their local councillors and request that plans are made public and consulted on. This is a public park and public money is being spent.”

London in Bloom has been running for 53 years with the aim of encouraging community involvement, care for the environment, and the maintenance of Green Spaces. The award hopes to stimulate are seen as priorities volunteering activities to take up the slack left by Local Authorities dwindling budgets and other perceived priorities. In addition to the Trust winning the Gold Award, Dukes Meadows has retained its Green Flag statues along with other local parks such as Chiswick Back Common, Turnham Green and Gunnersbury Park. In addition the Staveley Road allotment and Chiswick Old Cemetery have received Green Flags for the first time.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, said,“As a result of the last 18 months as residents have spent more time in their local area, the importance of access to high-quality green spaces has become more obvious than ever.

“Working alongside our incredible Friends of parks and community groups, volunteers and staff, the Council made it a priority to not only maintain but truly improve our parks and green spaces, and the collection of 21 awards in 2021 is a testament to everyone’s hard work and dedication to our Borough’s green assets.

“I would like to say a special 'thank you' to Lampton GreenSpace 360 for their excellent management of our treasured parks. I would love for residents to be able to make the most of every green space throughout the Borough, and I look forward to continually raising the bar in creating a great greener Hounslow.”

Hounslow Council has been asked for a response to the comments made by the Dukes Meadows Trust.

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October 17, 2021