Park sell-off proposal criticised

The Parks Alliance says Bexley's plan to dispose of 27 green open spaces is 'deeply worrying'.

Bexley: green spaces put at risk
Bexley: green spaces put at risk

The London Borough of Bexley's proposal to dispose of 27 of its open spaces and highway land has been described as "deeply worrying" by The Parks Alliance.

The south London borough wants to dispose of 10 open spaces along with 17 small, green highways sites as part of plans to save £50m over the next four years.

The council claimed any income from the sale of the sites would fund the maintenance of its remaining parks and open spaces for the next decade - and avoid any playground closures. It also stated that the sites account for just 0.37 per cent of the total area of its parks and open spaces, and 1.44 per cent of the borough's green highway land.

However, Sid Sullivan of The Parks Alliance, which acts as a champion for public parks, described Bexley's controversial plan, which has upset some local residents, as "deeply worrying".

He added: "The 27 sites in Bexley include 10 park sites, which are valuable places for families and communities to meet, play and be active.

"Parks across the UK have suffered major cuts. Moves to sell off parks put at risk a crucial part of our social and physical infrastructure that's used day-in, day-out, bringing huge health, social and environmental benefits. We must protect parks at the heart of our life and culture."

A representative for the London Borough of Bexley explained to Horticulture Week that "without looking at alternative options for generating income to sustain the sites in the long term, the council wouldn't have the money to maintain the remaining parks and open spaces and the facilities within them".

This would result in no sports provision in any of the borough's open spaces, no playgrounds in the borough, grass areas almost certainly returning to meadow in all open spaces and no litter or dog-waste bins.

The representative added: "While the principle of disposing of the sites has been agreed, detailed technical evaluations have still to be completed and there will be further public consultation on each before any final decisions are taken."

Bexley Green space

The London Borough of Bexley currently maintains 106 open spaces and parks, including Danson Park, covering a total of 670ha. It also provides 35 allotment sites (44ha), manages four cemeteries (20ha) and maintains green highway land.

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