Burgess Park design proposals

In the traditional ‘burying bad news’ time slot (I hope that’s not ominous), Southwark Council have released the two shortlisted proposals for Burgess Park.

I’ve hardly had time to look at these myself, yet, so reaction will follow.

Update: So here’s my considered opinion. Obviously with a constrained budget (£6m may sound a lot, but Burgess Park is one of the largest in London and is receiving a fraction of the money given to comparable projects) both have had to be somewhat cautious in their plans; it’s quite funny to see existing features marketed as new ones (“a wide tree-lined avenue along the historical canal path, with space for walkers, runners and cyclists” — that’s what we have now, only with not so many trees).

As well as improved entrances and lighting, which were requirements, both have focussed on the lake area and a new public square where the underpass currently sits; as both have proposed sealing the underpass, this does present the problem of having a very busy road run through the middle of it and no easy way to cross; a minus point, in my book.

Gillespies bid is the more cautious (sensible?) of the two; I liked their dog-only areas, cycling/walking routes, and meadow area.

LDA Designs were more ambitious; informative art pieces are respectful of the park’s history, and with more biodiversity — including a wetlands area and an orchard.

Of the two, I think I lean towards the latter (I will have to assume that everything they’ve planned can be achieved within the budget), but it’s very close.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

146 thoughts on “Burgess Park design proposals”

  1. After viewing both briefly…

    I prefer the Gillespies plan but they should keep and restore the old canal bridge…It would be stupid not too…

  2. Hard to tell which is best. Gillespies looks flasher. But I don’t like the proposal to have designated areas for dogs. Dog walkers — dog egg issues aside — are important to the safety and life of a park. I couldn’t see whether the intention is to keep it open 24 hours, but that should be a pre-requisite. I’m in there very early some days and it’s well used even then.

  3. I like the idea of a dog free park. Dogs are dangerous and they crap everywhere. I also hate watching ‘responsible owners’ running round with plastic bags on their hands scraping up turd. Why would you do that? Unless you’re a shepherd, a huntsman, blind or working in mountain rescue then dog ownership is optional. At a push I’d forgive a lighthouse keeper or a tramp.. but we all know what they get up to with their dogs..

  4. Well said, Alan. Britain is top of the world league of Dog Lovers. It is our national shame. They woof, bark, whine, poop, stink, blow off in your face, flop around and yes you guessed it that’s just the owners. Sheepdogs are great working in the hills. The idea of keeping dogs as pets is totally anti-dog.

  5. Dogs and cities don’t go together… it inevitably becomes a case of the tail wagging the dog, spendging vast amounts cleaning up after them and, in the case of irresponsible owners, their keepers too.

    Speaking of dogs… went to see ‘UP’ today. Lots of dogs in that film. Very nicely made pic.

  6. Nothing worse than ruining a favorite pair of shoes by stepping in dog doo…

    They are never quite the same again afterwards…

    I think the council will take the ideas folk like the best from both masterplans and then create a fusion — they should take a few ideas from Mile End Park

  7. Was at Peckham Rye park the other day. Loved the outdoor gym — a playpark for adults, and being very well used (not by me, but I appreciated the idea!). Also loved the unpretentious but well kept bowling green where anyone could wander in, pay their £3, and have a go (or sit on the side eating scones and ice cream). Both that cafe, and the new cafe at the entrance are great additions. And all the lovely flower gardens, including the Japanese Garden and the English garden (Sexby Garden?) are really great places to be. Quite a different vibe to that of Burgess Park, of course, but it seems to work for Peckham — a combination of wide open spaces, architectural flower gardens, and interactive activities. Wasn’t particularly inspired by either Burgess Park proposal…

  8. Dogs. Seems to me when I’m in Ruskin or on the Rye that there’s only one breed of dog these days. Everyone has the same staffie fighting dog thingy. It’s depressing. Bring back all the other dogs.

    Gillespies — the pond boardwalk will mean the loss of a bank to the anglers, though that’s not a biggie. However it’s one of v few places for fishermen in London. As anyone who uses Warwick Gdns will know, people shortcut across the grass when faced with ‘meandering paths’.

    LDA — The Great Lawn is, er, a field.

    Gillespies looks the better of the two but perhaps only because it’s a better leaflet. There’s not much in it.

  9. Anyway, both these designs need to better reflect modern urban needs. For instance, where is the Dogging Zone? I want to see a secluded area with tables shaped like Ford Escort bonnets, lots of shrubbery for folk to hang about in, spotlights, special wet wipe dispensers, etc…

  10. @ Phil G: Same Breed of Dogs — In this year of Darwin what better proof of what happens when environmental evolutionary pressures apply to animals ? Staffs pit bulls are simply the outcome of intense processes of natural selection south east London.

  11. Interesting point Mark, and I’m sure Darwin would be duly horrified by the standard of human genetic stock that, in many cases, is rearing these dogs.

  12. Both proposals are very dull considering there is six million to spend they are both very mundane. I was very under-whelmed. Also separating park users into different areas is very 1980’s. Seems we are heading that way politically so I suppose the park will as well.

    It is a real shame as this could have been a great opportunity to do something radical. I would have preferred to see Peter’s zoo than these proposals.

    LDA are doing the Olympic site and Gillespies are a huge practice there are better ones out there.

    Even shoulder pads are back a definite sign of the 80“s

  13. As I mentioned before, Gnomee, in fact £6m is not a great investment for a park of this size; to put it in perspective, the recent development of Mile-End Park, which is 36 hectares, cost £40m; Burgess Park is 50 hectares. Potter’s Field Park, at only 1.5 hectares, cost £3m to develop.

  14. Peter you are absolutely right on the mark but I have to say £6 million is a TON of money although not enough. It would go further IF it were not in local authority or pfi clutches where most of it will be spent in consultancy and feasibility studies and the remainder will be eroded by demands of time (like it will take three years to make a decision about anything) and health and safety issues.

    Mile End Park had a lot of structural work linking the various green swards across roads which made it very cash intensive.

    With Burgess a lot of money’s going to be spent making it benign before work starts been done on remaking it.

    A Development Trust was the best way forward for Burgess but that got binned somehow — that debacle passed me by entirely — and no doubt a cloud of cash evaporated along the way knocking that one for six.

    And there are ways of making £6 million go a long long way if it’s done creatively with imagination and a tight arsed attitude.

  15. By the way there was tonight (Monday 12 October) a HUGE noisy bash in Warner Road which looked horribly like a trendy big Art Happening in a building reputed to be owned by Damien Hirst. Anyone know anything about that? I was too shy to venture in and ask. I’ve thought for years that a good big industrial venue in one of those buildings on Warner — like Saatchi’s on Boundary Road — would transform Camberwell.

  16. I saw it too wandering home at about 11.30pm from a Mark Thomas gig — there was art in the building and a large amount of art student‑y looking people — they left a right mess this morning!

  17. A good way to spend £6 million and end up with a great Park would be to employ local people to do it, with hired technical expertise to help it along.

    You’d end up with:

    * a better park w/ more creative design
    * money kept in the area
    * lot of people given the opportunity to learn skills and earn money
    * greater chance of community affiliation with the project

    Designing a park really can’t be that hard.

  18. GRISTWOOD & TOMS have been giving the trees an end-of-summer service. Their work is expert and precise. The svelte mummies in Warwick Gardens gaze wistfully at the Toms’ lithe & wiry limbs as these fine feline fellows pass through the park in their flatbed truck. A silver birch has broken in half in the churchyard. The leaves are falling like money — gold, silver, bronze, then all gone.

  19. On a slightly unrelated topic, was wondering around Camberwell Old Cemetery in Forest Hill. If you haven’t been there, I can recommend it. Fascinating place. Completely overgrown and better for it. Discovered that one of the first recipients of the Victoria Cross was a Camberwell man. http://www.shinycapstar.com/stanlake.htm

    Someone has cut through the undergrowth to provide a path to the grave. Will try and get a picture up.

  20. @Gabe — using local people to build the park totally on the ball great idea far too bloody basic and sensible EVER to be taken up for Burgess Park.

    @Hannah — I spoke to an electrician at the premises today and he confirmed:

    1) art thingy but knew very little about it said there was some performance thing breaking up cars and a woman upstairs with lots of pigeons in the room
    2) Damien Hirst had something to do with it

  21. Mark — good news soem arty people have moved to the area and are doing interesting things — however at the risk of sounding old they need to understadn that if they want to hold huge noisy partiew on weekdays with very loud music into the small hours some of us have boring jobs that require us to be up early in the morning!

  22. Mmm where’s this art thing at? I gotta meet some of these arty chicks. But first I need to get the parting cut out of my hair, and also lose this tie.

    Hannah I suggest you do the same. Perhaps we could gatecrash the next happening and pretend we’re postgrads, or theatre set designers.

  23. I am relieved that neither proposal is too radical and that they’re not planning to totally overhaul the park — I actually quite like it as it is, and I was a bit worried they would transform it into a sterile, ‘over managed’ nightmare. I think there’s a lot to be said for leaving things a bit wild and overgrown.

    I quite like both proposals, there’s not really much between them.

    Off topic — I took little ‘un and hubby down to Johaanson’s for brunch on Saturday and was bowled over — can’t believe I haven’t been there before, it’s just what Camberwell needs! A lovely brunch, smiling chatty staff and a family friendly atmosphere. I think they need to market themselves better though, there must be loads of people like me who have walked on by for months thinking we’ll never get a seat because it looks so small! It’s actually quite big inside. I think I’m going to become a regular! Shame they don’t open in the evening yet — the waiter said they’re hoping to by the end of the year.

  24. ‘OVER MANAGED’, exactly Amanda. The nicest, small natural open spaces in Camberwell are the churchyard and Lucas Gardens. One thinks of Audrey in ‘The Archers’, speaking up in the parish council meeting about footpaths. ‘They are a precious tracery of ancient byways that link us to our primaeval past,’ or some such, she said. Scadbury Park is great near Sidcup, original woodland. ‘Most of Britain was once like this, well trodden paths amongst forests, with occasional clearings where there were people who kept pigs,’ our 6‑year-old girl was recently advised. ‘For real?’ she said. So, indeed. In those days, should one have come across a MacDonalds in the forest, one would have thought that God had landed along with his celestial palace.

  25. @Dagmar your six year old is clearly a budding genius with provenance. Does she pine for McDonalds in woodland clearings? Where are the Deesses by the way?

  26. This comment from the boss of Asda today made me larf.

    “No-one can deny that Britain has spawned a generation of young people who struggle to read, write or do simple maths.

    “That’s why we’re finding packs of nappies discarded in the booze aisle as the last few pounds are spent on alcohol rather than childcare.”

    So true, so true. What a hopeless nation we are. Still, I’d rather have a can of Tatra than some rusks anyday.

  27. Silk Road! Baffling menu but we recklessly overordered and had a very enjoyable meal.

    Any tips for ordering there?

  28. Silk Rd. Your choices fall neatly into two categories.

    The main specialities are the Muslim style food from Xinjiang (though the staff are not ethnic muslim Xinjiangers). This means the cumin loaded kebabs, the big chicken, the boiled lamb and one or two noodle dishes. Note that some of these need two or more diners to make the most of them.

    2nd category is the Chinese stuff, some of which you could get in regular Chinese restaurants, some you couldn’t. The ones I have had — green veg, aubergines etc — have by and large been very tasty.

    If I’m with another person I usually go: lamb kebabs, a big belt noodle chicken or whatever it’s called, a bowl of rice or a plate of Xinjiang noodles, and a Chinese style veg dish.

    The other thing that is quite popular is the dumplings, which are a Chinese dish. These come with a soy and/or vinegar dip. I find the dough too stodgy and in some ways the filling is too meaty, but I can vouch that that is how they are in parts of China.

  29. So I’m in for another free color TV on the East Dulwich Forum.

    I scored a small portable a couple of months ago from a nice guy named Steve. This “new” one has two scart sockets and is 28″.

    EDF is good for that kind of thing. Conversation, not so much.

    Sort of a reverse of Camberwell Online.

  30. Keep up the looting.

    If we ever get a new telly I’ll bear you in mind. New tellies are for wimps though.

    Thanks Phil. Had the kebabs this time but I fancy the big belters next.. I’ll print off your instructions..

  31. Sorry guys to be the nay sayer about Burgess Park but the £6mill is a sandwich short of a picnic and what we’re looking at here are two schemes that aren’t going to do what’s needed.

    Personally, I KNOW it’s possible to squeeze a lot more out of 6 big ones than these schemes outline but I live in the real world of hand to mouth economics where a tenner has to reap thirty quid’s worth of return.

    The ambitions for the park fall short of where they ought to be and we’re all going to get another thirty years of poor planning on top of thirty (a lot more I think actually) years of poor planning for Burgess Park.

    This has become a self fulfilling prophecy — THE park with the most spent on it and the least achieved.

    Aspirations for Burgess Park ought to be of the highest order. THE park for London’s 21st century, drawing in people form across the capital, causing a stir internationally and across the UK. Instead it will be a pedestrian boring non entity that was sanctioned by everyone involved along the way because they all know life’s not perfic and they’ll get a job out of it for a while. Damn their consciences.

  32. As Peter’s already pointed out in his update, what we mostly have here is Burgess Park rebranded rather than redeveloped. Fair enough perhaps — you don’t get a lot of consultancy for the odd six million nowadays — but the proposal to remove the underpass at Wells Way and replace it with a ‘shared surface/traffic calmed area’ or similar is, frankly, bizarre.

    Have either of these outfits actually been there? It’s a busy road and has been for a very long time — that’s why there’s an underpass. And it’s getting busier. Pedestrian priority here — runners, cyclists, toddlers and tricycles, even without the staffie walkers — would create a tailback the like of which has never been seen in these parts.

    Let’s say there wasn’t already an underpass. What might be the likely first thing to occur to someone presented with the challenge of uniting two halves of a park separated by a busy road? Might it be something like: “Hey guys! How about an underpass? Or a flyover? No, maybe a flyover’s a bit pricey and we’ve got a lot of photoshop to do for the tree-lined avenue and stuff but how about an underpass?” Sorted.

    And another thing — or two:

    A ‘Destination Park’? A destination for whom, apart from those who can run, cycle or toddle there. Or there’s always the bus — but you’ll not be welcome on the 343 with a tricycle. Or a picnic hamper. So why no car-park? The existing one will be a bit muddy what with the frogs. But you’d get a lot of cars parked end-on to the kerb with an extra few feet on some of those redundant roads.

    And speaking of roads, there’s an opportunity here for some joined-up thinking about joined-up roads. One of the original aims of the CRT was that the Gloucester Grove/North Peckham estates area, as was, should be served by public transport. In fact, the idea is way older than that — with a major junction built long ago on the Peckham Road for a dedicated bus-route through, via Chandler Way, to St George’s Way. Not sure quite where it was meant to go from there but the logical route would be to curve through the cutting between the Astroturf pitch and the… er …Great Lawn to connect with the existing, blocked, Calmington Road out to Albany Road for a left and right into Thurlow Street for the Elephant.

    With a stop and maybe a toilet or two and a pan-roasted pheasant burger/icecream stall by the lake it wouldn’t be a bad place to alight for an enjoyable Burgess Park Experience. And, with only the odd bus to contend with, you’d probably lose a lot fewer people with pedestrian priority crossing points.

    Wait…I’ve just had another look at LDA’s impression of the new Wells Way Square and there’s just the one car there. So no problem. I take it all back.

  33. @Robert Soles: Neat, well done.

    And it’s in SE5. And it has the possibility of being a transformational development affecting a huge swathe of se Lodon… and what we’re going to get is a lot of money misspent on one of the most significant inner city open spaces in Europe and we’ll be sad.

  34. Take out Wells Way altogether! There was talk of this when the tram was going to pass through here. At the end of the day it’s a rat run through our park. The current pedestrian underpass is narrow, oppressive and smells of piss. @Robert Soles Queues of traffic? – let it queue — we live in a city which should be for people not cars especially in the middle of one of the few parks we have and I definitely don’t agree with your new division of the park for a bus lane!. I like the ironwork and history elements of LDAs design and community aspect of Gillespie’s

  35. Oyster card pay-as-you-go bus journeys are to rise from £1 to £1.20.

    Is anyone else here absolutely sick of buses shortening their routes after you’ve got on and paid? I’m thinking of the 12 and the 171 in particular.

    Ever since they got these auto announcement systems in they seem to think it’s fine to change the destination as they like. For God’s sake it’s not that hard to regulate a service. I’m so tired of being chucked off early, and this after having waited 10 minutes for it in the first place.

    I also notice that the tannoy doesn’t tell passengers that they’re entitled to a special ticket off the driver to use to complete their journey. Strange that.

    Fight the power, people.

  36. Really? That makes me so angry. Public transport costs rise at an astronomical rate! On the other hand, bus fares in London are probably cheaper than anywhere else in the country… In any case, I’m even more glad that I’ve started cycling. Free, plus healthy, plus faster than the bus. As long as I avoid those lorries in the cycle lanes…

    I had no idea I was entitled to a special ticket to complete the journey til the 68 decided to stop at Holborn last week (my bike had a flat tire, I am incompetent at repairs, and Edwardes wasn’t open yet). Amidst my wrath, I noticed a woman asking the driver for a transit ticket. I followed suit. What I actually got was a printout of all the passengers and how they had paid since the start of the 68’s journey. At 8am 70% were Freedom Pass or children. The proportion of Freedom Pass holders presumably increases later in the day. If so many people are travelling free, it’s hardly surprising that we need a fare rise to pay for them all (though we’re also paying through the Council), but personally I think it’s too easy to get a Freedom Pass. Though not easy enough, as I don’t have one… (the new bus did let me on for free with this bizarre “transit ticket”).

  37. Glad to see the congestion charge go up even though global warming is no longer an issue:


    Pollution and finite fossil fuels are still a concern.

    I am very disappointed that the bus fare rises are the biggest. This punishes the poorest the most. So much for caring conservatism. I am definitely going to vote Labour.

  38. It’s a harsh rise, but there is a massive funding gap which Boz inherited. Ken would’ve had to do something as well. This is partly in thanks to the many many people travelling free, as GayC’s printout shows.

    Still, a London journey is relatively cheap when you think you can cross the whole city for £1.20.

  39. Ken would have gone after the middle class commuters. Annual travel cards have been frozen to protect Boris’s supporters.

  40. The people who travel for free are largely very poor.

    Singling out fare evaders is like turning on the long term sick. Easy populist targets missing the real point of huge embedded inequality in Britain.

  41. The ‘poor’ will still travel free. Boris has stuffed your average London commuter with this, including ‘middle class’ office idiots like me. And he’s even hiked the congestion charge too for the Range Rover types.

    Yet still he’s accused of pandering to his supporters. Even if he was, since he was democratically chosen by a strong majority then wouldn’t that be OK? Does everything have to be about the ‘poor’?

    For me one of the most deplorable things about TfL is the way that if you’re not in its spyware Oyster system then you get really fleeced. It’s a terrible way to treat visitors and tourists.

  42. Course, I don’t blame Ken or Boris. The dogs dinner of Metronet created a big part of the funding problem. Cheers Gordon!

    As for London transport, well where to begin. Dreadful. And when you go to another world city and see how it can be then you just feel ashamed.

  43. Interesting link Gabe, thanks. Surprised it’s in the NYT.

    A floor covered with honey is art? I need to see some of these exhibitions…

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