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Mint St Park (part 2 – the Council’s response)

by adelemorris on 30 June, 2015

Here is the response I received from the parks dept to the complaint I discussed in my previous blog. There will be a meeting at 4pm on 10th July with representatives from the Council (including the Cabinet member) to discuss this (wholly inadequate) response. I had asked for an urgent meeting to discuss the safety issues (not addressed in this response)  but the officers are too busy to come to more than one meeting……

Dear Councillor Morris

Thank your for your letter dated 9 June regarding Mint Street Park Improvements.

We have reviewed the feedback from residents on the recent work implemented at the park and are hopeful that we can address these with the further work we have planned. To this end we would welcome the opportunity to meet on site for a walkabout to discuss the issues raised further and talk through our plans.

In the meantime I am happy to provide responses to the questions set out in your letter.

1)    When were the post-planning changes to the design made, and why was the community not told about these changes?

In December 2014, once planning consent and other statutory approvals were in place, the detailed design and schedule of works were sent to the council’s contractor (Conways Aecom) for pricing. The quotation we received to deliver the full scheme was in excess of the remaining budget available.

The design was then value engineered to bring it within budget. This involved omitting the construction of the planters from the Conways contract and focussing on priority works of road closures and path resurfacing. The installation of the planters was kept as a provisional item with the decision on them deferred until the priority works were completed.

For excavation works of this nature we like to ensure that the project has a healthy contingency to mitigate any unexpected discoveries. During works it became necessary to use some of this to deal with voids revealed beneath the surface at Quilp Street and to install a new sewer connection at Mint Street. However, with careful management of the work we were able to make savings in other areas, leaving us with sufficient funds now to deliver additional planting for the scheme.        

2)    Why has the loading bay on Southwark Bridge Rd, which was in the original design, not been included?

During our pre- planning consultation a local business owner requested that a loading bay was included in the design. Once planning consent was awarded, we contacted the business to make the application for a loading bay to our traffic management team but they no longer required it. The loading bay provision was therefore omitted from the final scheme.    

3)    When did the “1003mm high freestanding wall with entrance signage” and “plant bed with reclaimed kerb edging” on Southwark Bridge Rd get replaced by a row of ugly bollards? There was not supposed to be any vehicular access from this end of the park, so why bollards.

Please see my response to item 1. The bollards were introduced to prevent vehicle access in lieu of the planters being installed at the Quilp Street entrance which was deferred subject to the budget becoming available.

4)    Why has the quantity of planting beds been reduced on more recent plans that we have now seen copies of?

The final design is the one that was granted planning consent in May 2015 and circulated to the Mint Street Steering Group in March 2014. The installation of the planting beds has not yet been delivered for the reasons outlined above.

5)    Why has money been wasted on expensive surfacing of the paths where plant beds were proposed? Are there, in fact, not going to be any plant beds now?

Please see my response to item 1. We would welcome feedback / ideas for the new planting.

6)    The most important element of the whole redesign from the community’s point of view was to incorporate the hammerheads into the park to create more green space and less hard surface. Why, therefore, does the park appear to have more hard surface now?

The hammerheads have now been integrated into the park with additional turfing introduced in some places. There has been an increase in green space.

It may be the case that the new design gives the impression of more hard surface because all the pathways are now constructed with the same material – matching with the path installed by BOST in the stage area. Greater visibility around the park (particularly at the Quilp Street entrance) means that the pathways are more obvious.

We are confident that the additional planting we have planned will soften the overall appearance of the park landscape and I look forward to sharing our ideas with you.

Other issues that have been raised:

1)    The benches have been moved and have now been set too low for adults to sit on comfortably. Please can they be reinstalled at the correct height? And please can there be more benches, as there is plenty of space for them.

The height of the benches was identified as too low during snagging inspection and will be rectified within the next two weeks.

2)    There are not enough bins, and they need to be emptied more often. Please can they be emptied in the afternoons so that the rat problem in the park is not exacerbated by bins that are overflowing overnight?

We are awaiting the delivery of three additional litter bins for the park. The park is classified as a tier two park and therefore has two litter collections each day. Bins are emptied in the morning before 11am and then again in the afternoon. We believe that the additional bins will resolve the issue of overflow however we shall continue to monitor the situation.

3)    There is a concern that the paths have not been designed for optimum drainage, and that this will impact on the rest of the park.

All paths have been constructed with permeable resin bound surfacing. Gully drains have been installed at optimum intervals to ensure effective surface water run off.

4)    There is a concern that the paths are now being used by vehicles but that the surface is not suitable for heavy vehicle use.

The new pathways are constructed to a light vehicle specification and can therefore accommodate use by park maintenance vehicles.

5)    There is a request for cctv to monitor people who are not picking up their dog mess, and also to deter the street drinkers who have taken over the stage area during the daytime.

There are no plans to install CCTV in the park.

6)    It was noted that there has been an increase in people sleeping in the park, and a request that there is better co-ordination between parks/St Mungo’s/wardens and safer neighbourhood police

The parks operational team liaise closely with St Mungos and have arranged for the park to be regularly visited by their support workers.

Park Liaison Officers regularly patrol Mint Street Park and will monitor the presence of rough sleepers and street drinkers. We shall also raise a task order with the Community Warden service to undertake targeted surveillance and monitoring of the park over the next few weeks.

I would be grateful if you could share this response with residents who have contacted you and discuss possible dates for us to meet at the park.  

If you have any questions about this response please do not hesitate to contact me on 020 7525 0771 or emailRebecca.Towers@southwark.gov.uk.

Best wishes

Rebecca Towers
Parks and Open Spaces Manager

 

 

 

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