The fight to save our beautiful park has been extremely time-consuming, stressful and frustrating and unfortunately continues. The park is still shortlisted but now as a main tunnel drive site. This is something Thames Water “TW” has not consulted on and something they had ruled unsuitable during Phase 1.
We questioned how TW could earmark our much-loved KSG “KSG” in the first place, given the severe environmental and community impacts that would result, particularly given that TW themselves ruled the park as unsuitable for several reasons. We also raised the many flaws in its process, including the complete omission of the Bosco Centre’s nursery, college and after-school clubs and the convent in its assessment of the park. We have battled, lobbied and protested, produced letters and reports, held meetings, attended various other events from parliamentary meetings to People’s Question Time and submitted evidence to consultations. If nothing else, TW has now recognised that green spaces should not be targeted unnecessarily and understands this community’s strength of feeling for our precious park.
In spite of these difficult times, out of bad comes good. Through the whole process we have made wonderful new friends, received very moving letters about what the park means to people and photographs of weddings and christenings. We have introduced new initiatives, worked with Council and other groups, held various nature based activities for children and community events and are well on the way to securing added layers of protection for the park, which will provide significant new funding streams and event opportunities and should mean that our community will not have to face another similar battle in the future. The park of course is now also a part of the new Edward III’s Rotherhithe Conservation Area.
Here is a summary and a few pictures from the last 15 months (I have not included all the press articles and films as there are simply too many to list). We are so very grateful to everybody that has supported and been involved in the campaign and events.
- TW announces its Thames Tunnel proposals and Phase 1 consultation process. KSG has been selected as its preferred riverside site in Southwark for a seven year programme of works. The park is proposed as an intermediate/reception site for the main tunnel and as a drive site for the CSO connection tunnels.
- Local residents learn more about the devastating proposals and talk about setting up an Action Group.
- Southwark Council leader, Peter John, says that the Council will vigorously oppose the proposals to site Thames Tunnel shafts at Druid Street and KSG.
- Southwark Liberal Democrats set up a petition against the use of Druid Street and KSG and leaflet the area.
- Save KSG petition (online and paper) launched and Facebook page set up.
- Review begins of TW’s Phase 1 documentation. Major errors are found.
- TW begins its exhibitions in the City of London. Locals attend, only to be told that there are no alternatives to KSG and that is where it will go. Offers of mitigation and purchase of homes.
- Save King’s Stairs Gardens Action Group “SaveKSG” formed at a public meeting attended by approximately 90 people and the officers and members of the committee were elected and co-opted.
- Friends of Southwark Park donate £500 to the campaign.
- Website established, banners and posters created by our very talented designers and leaflet drops begin to local homes and businesses.
- Press interest evident and significant coverage in Southwark News and other local media over ensuing months.
- Protest held at TW’s Beormund Street exhibition.
- Group of local residents meet with Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Recycling in KSG.
- Valerie Shawcross AM meets with TW to discuss finding an alternative site.
- The Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP and Cllr Anood Al-Samerai visit KSG.
- Professor David Bellamy backs the campaign to save KSG and becomes the Action Group’s honorary patron.
- SaveKSG’s technical team compile a report on engineering alternatives.
- SaveKSG deputation makes a presentation to the Southwark Council Assembly meeting and receives unanimous cross party support against the use of the park for the Thames Tunnel works.
- Public meeting at the end of the month attended by MP Simon Hughes, Valerie Shawcross AM and Southwark Council Leader, Peter John.
- Cleaner, Greener, Safer grant to improve the area between the Angel and Fulford Street now suspended due to TW’s proposals.
- Banners are hung on St Peter’s church, the Angel pub, local people’s homes, on the railings to the park and the Bosco Centre.
- Locals are up in arms as they learn more about the plans with many letters written to the local papers, including one from the landlord of the Angel who fears his pub could be pushed out of business.
- Children from the Bosco Centre paint posters and hang them around the centre (beside TW’s proposed access road).
- Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, Simon Hughes MP, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, local Councillors and TW representatives meet local people in KSG. Baroness Ludford says that she will work with Simon Hughes and Anood to find a solution that has minimal local impact.
- The Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP meets with TW officials about alternative sites.
- Local resident, Michael Daniels poses question about KSG to Boris Johnson at People’s Question Time.
- TW officials speak at Rotherhithe Community Council. All Councillors oppose the plans.
- Protest is held at TW’s exhibition at the Time and Talents in Rotherhithe. There were more people than could fit in the building and TW personnel were faced with a barrage of questions and objections.
- SaveKSG submits a report and proposal to Southwark Council on a new conservation area to include the park.
- SaveKSG campaign featured on BBC London News.
- After much pressure from the Action Group, TW finally make available its original Site Suitability Report for KSG, revealing yet more inconsistencies and flaws.
- SaveKSG Christmas cards designed with comments from local children and available for local people and sent to all local politicians, all London Assembly members, London riverside MPs, government ministers, TW etc.
- Jubilee Greenway markers are installed in KSG.
- Public meeting held.
- More posters designed for the park.
- Petition collection at the Norwegian Church Christmas Fair.
- Teachers and school children from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Gomm Road march on City Hall to present the petition to Phil Stride of TW. Valerie Shawcross AM also accepted a copy on behalf of London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Richard Aylard of TW sports a Save KSG Action Group “brownfield not greenfield” badge and advises members of the group that they are actively involved in finding an alternative.
- Members of the SaveKSG committee meet with the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP.
- SaveKSG public meeting.
- SaveKSG compile its Environment and Community Impact Response Document which is submitted to TW.
- SaveKSG have a table at Surrey Docks Farm Christmas Fair.
- SaveKSG contact the Environmental Law Foundation.
- SaveKSG provide assistance to Pierce Glynn Solicitors and local resident Elaine Holland regarding legal advice surrounding the threat to KSG.
- The Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP meets with TW and presents a letter to SaveKSG members in KSG. The letter outlines that the use of KSG as a worksite for the Thames Tunnel is not acceptable for both environmental and community reasons and that a full submission in this regard will be submitted to TW. Some sledding fun completes the visit!
- SaveKSG public meeting with speakers the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP, Cllr Barrie Hargrove and Cllr Anood Al-Samerai.
- Southwark News Editorial states the paper’s full support for SaveKSG.
- Half-page article in The Guardian reports London-wide objections to “super sewer” and highlights KSG campaign.
- Professor David Bellamy OBE visits KSG to speak to the community and TW about the importance of preserving green spaces such as our beautiful park. He says “why when there are brownfield sites waiting to be developed .... why choose this. This park must not be built on – find somewhere else.” Prof. Bellamy is interviewed by the BBC TV Politics Show and visits St Peter & the Guardian Angels church, the Bosco Centre (where he talks to the nursery children) and the Angel pub. Darren Johnson AM speaks to the community and says that “green space by the river is what makes this river so important and it is such a treasure... you certainly have my support in pushing to TW in looking to find an alternative site that we need”. Nick Tennant from Thames Water also addresses the crowd saying “hats off to your campaign. You have fought a formidable and powerful and hopefully effective campaign”. Report available on request or more information at www.saveksg.com.
- London Mayor, Boris Johnson writes to TW and supports the view that alternatives to KSG had not been properly identified.
- Sir Patrick Stewart and Annie Lennox add their names to the petition to Save KSG.
- Barry Albin-Dyer issues a statement and offers his support to the campaign to save the park.
- SaveKSG submits its response to TW’s Phase 1 consultation and an update to the petition. Thousands of people, community and environmental groups, politicians respond to the consultation to say that KSG should not be used for the Thames Tunnel.
- SaveKSG responds to Defra’s consultation on biodiversity offsetting and the Open Spaces Society Go for Green Spaces campaign.
- TW announces that it has bought the northern part of Chambers Wharf as a possible brownfield alternative to KSG.
- SaveKSG public meeting held with over 100 people in attendance to hear from Richard Aylard, TW’s External Affairs and Sustainability Director.
- New posters designed for the park.
- Southwark Council consult on and introduce the proposed Edward III’s Rotherhithe Conservation Area which includes KSG, recognising the area as one of special architectural and historic interest.
- Nature Day in KSG. Fabulous day with over 1,000 people attending and great music, performances, raffle, stalls and packed full of nature-based activities. Organised by the SaveKSG and funded and supported by Southwark Council, Bermondsey Community Council and many local people and businesses. Sadly, Professor David Bellamy could not join us to lead the children’s nature trails because of massive rail problems in the north of England although we were able to record a message from him and broadcast it to the crowd. Local schoolteacher Richard Preston “disguises” himself as Professor Bellamy and leads the nature trails. Speeches from the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP who spoke about the importance of urban parkland and playgrounds and Southwark Council leader, Peter John who spoke about continuing the fight to ensure Thames Water choose a more appropriate site. Report available on request.
- TW releases its report on Phase 1 consultation – 5591 responses were against the use of KSG (just four in favour).
- TW carries out riverbed sonar surveys beside KSG.
- Tree preservation order is put on all trees in KSG.
- KSG Football Academy established.
- SaveKSG public meeting, including a presentation from TW on its Phase 1 consultation results.
- Rotherhithe Community Council meeting on parks and green spaces.
- SaveKSG members interviewed for amateur film on the Thames Tunnel.
- Sir David Attenborough takes question from “brownfield not greenfield” groups on Ask Attenborough show hosted by Ben Fogle. He says it is “absolutely essential” to preserve green spaces in urban centres.
- TW’s contractors dig hole in the park in the wrong area for its mains replacement works after staging fencing and signs for publicity photos using the park and its views.
- Local historian and author of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe Remembered, Stephen Humphrey, leads a guided walk through historic Rotherhithe and KSG.
- TW continues its park usage surveys but ignores anybody using the park “on the grass”, including all of the children and parents at the KSG Football Academy.
- Significant coverage in Green Places magazine with photo from Save KSG member on the front cover.
- Open Spaces Society include information on KSG on its “blue-print for green space law” submission to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
- SaveKSG provide assistance to Pierce Glynn Solicitors and Elaine Holland on the application to register KSG as a Village Green. Local people submit letters, photos and additional information and evidence on their use of the park and what KSG means to them.
- TW’s boring rig arrives in the river in front of the houses at King Stairs Close.
- We discover that TW lodged a representation against designating KSG as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.
- Fiery SaveKSG public meeting attended by Southwark Council leader Peter John, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai and Phil Stride, Derek Arnold and Alan Lewis from TW. TW was challenged over unnecessarily objecting to the Site of Importance for Nature Conservation designation. Cllr Peter John, Cllr Al-Samerai and local people called for TW to withdraw its representation.
- KSG added to the Waterways Treasure Map.
- I was honoured to receive a nomination award from the Southwark Volunteer of the Year 2011 for community contribution in the fight to save KSG. This award goes to all the people who have worked hard on the campaign and supported SaveKSG and the events it has held.
- St Peter and the Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Church holds its annual fair in KSG.
- Local people interviewed for amateur film on the Thames Tunnel.
- The new butterfly garden organised by the Save KSG Action Group, with help from Southwark Council and MGJV, is planted by children from Bosco nursery and St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Gomm Road.
- The new KSG gardening group add ice plants to the butterfly garden.
- Butterfly Picnic in KSG for Love Parks Week. Another wonderful community event based on the new butterfly garden and the Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count. Butterfly garden officially opened by Cllr Barrie Hargrove. Report on the day available on request.
- Storyteller Vanessa Woolf writes and performs a story about KSG and Nigel of Bermondsey writes and performs a song about KSG.
- TW confirms that four bat species (Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Nathusius Pipistrelle and one of Noctule/Leisler's or Serotine) were recorded in KSG during their recent ecological survey.
- Southwark Council’s ecological officer advises that this looks to be the first recording in Southwark of the Nathusius Pipistrelle.
- The SaveKSG joins the Green City Bats project.
- Members of the SaveKSG attend and speak at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure’s meeting on the Thames Tunnel at Westminster.
- TW carries out park surveys, including sound tests.
- TW withdraws its representation against designating KSG as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation after pressure from Southwark Council, local Councillors and the local community. Environment Agency, Natural England and Open Spaces Society support the designation.
- Lord Selborne’s Thames Tunnel Commission is launched. The Commission is funded by a number of local authorities, including Southwark, to scrutinise the Super Sewer.
- Application to register KSG as a Village Green lodged with Southwark Council.
- TW’s controversial park surveys continue.
- Park monitoring cameras installed in the park.
- Significant coverage on BBC news on US cities experience of deep tunnel store and transfer sewage projects.
- Examination in public of the Canada Water Area Action Plan which includes the designation of KSG as a Site of Importance of Nature Conservation. The designation is supported by the Open Spaces Society, the Environment Agency and Natural England.
- Defra begins consultation on amending 2008 Planning Act to make the Thames Tunnel a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which would avoid local planning applications. Consultation focuses on technical details; main issue of making the tunnel an NSIP appears to be a “done deal”.
- SaveKSG organises bird box building for the park, thanks to Groundwork London and Southwark Council’s Parks Department.
- Extensive coverage of recent campaign developments in 8.16 News.
- The SaveKSG start discussing the possibility of a stag beetle loggery with Southwark Council’s Parks Department after a stag beetle attaches itself to a KSG member in KSG. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is keen to be involved in an opening event with local children.
- The SaveKSG submits evidence to Lord Selborne’s Thames Tunnel Commission.
- The Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP initiates a debate in parliament on the Thames Tunnel, raises a number of matters including the decision-making process, the “controversial plan” to use KSG and also pays tribute to SaveKSG.
- Almost 1,400 signatures added to the petition over two days at Surrey Quays Shopping Centre thanks to the Shopping Centre management and many lovely Save KSG volunteers.
- Members of SaveKSG meet with Phil Stride and Nick Tennant of TW.
- Art Class in KSG with award-winning artist John Myers organised by the SaveKSG.
- SaveKSG public meeting.
- SaveKSG writes to TW to advise that the petition numbers are now over 7,500.
- SaveKSG responds to Defra’s consultation on new village green applications and streamlining the planning process for nationally significant wastewater transportation infrastructure projects; and to the Department and Communities Local Government’s consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework.
- SaveKSG writes to the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP setting out our concerns about the planning reforms
- SaveKSG writes to Phil Stride calling on him to adopt other viable options to using KSG or Chambers Wharf so KSG could finally be removed from its list of sites.
- SaveKSG contacts Fields in Trust to discuss the possibility of KSG becoming a Queen Elizabeth II Field. The representative felt it was an excellent example of a green space that should be protected under this new designation given its current use, community events and royal history.
- SaveKSG writes to Southwark Council Leader, Peter John and Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Recycling, Barrie Hargrove requesting the Council nominates KSG to become a Queen Elizabeth II field, a campaign launch this month by Prince William. The Council fully support this idea and will contact Field’s in Trust to nominate the park.
- Thames Tunnel (Selborne) Commission report released which states that the Thames can be made cleaner, fulfilling the EU’s objectives on water quality, without the “Super Sewer”.
- 8.16 news launches its new range of t-shirts, fridge magnets and keyrings including a design of the magnificent view from KSG.
- TW respond to the Thames Tunnel Commission report stating that it fails to deliver a credible alternative to the “Super Sewer”.
- Government’s support for the Thames Tunnel reaffirmed in a statement from Richard Benyon MP.
- TW begins Phase II consultation and no longer maintain KSG as its preferred site for works in the area. However, TW have now shortlisted the park for a main drive site, in complete contradiction to its Phase I consultation where its position was that the park was not suitable as a main drive site. SaveKSG writes to TW about its illogical position.
- Amazing response from the community after the news that KSG is no longer a preferred site, with so many messages of thanks and congratulations, cards and flowers.
- SaveKSG on BBC London News.
- TW presentation at Canada Water Consultative Forum. SaveKSG members interviewed for amateur film.
- Public meeting held with TW officials presenting their Phase 2 plans and Simon Hughes MP addressing the 90 strong crowd. TW held to task on its illogical position of shortlisting KSG for a main tunnel drive site, something for which it deemed the park unsuitable for in Phase 1 and a proposal that has not been consulted upon.
- Positive meeting with Rob Hardy, Regional Manager, Fields in Trust regarding the Queen Elizabeth II Fields designation, funding and events. KSG could become a flagship park for the campaign;
- Southwark Council and Fields in Trust start the process for the Queen Elizabeth II Field designation.
- SaveKSG Annual General Meeting being held.
- Southwark Council confirms that it will be supporting the Village Green application.
I would like to take this opportunity to bid my farewells as my family and I return to Australia after 13 years. I personally thank the hard working and talented committee and SaveKSG members, to everybody that has supported not only the campaign but me personally throughout the last 15 months and to my husband, John and my boys for their help and patience. It will be very sad to say goodbye to all of my friends, old and new, to this area and to our beautiful park but I look forward to staying in touch and to offer any help I can.
I visited John Myer’s art studios (John is often seen painting by the river at KSG) on the weekend and we spoke about how special this area is. It’s beautiful and the community spirit is amazing – a village type atmosphere within central London. My family and I will certainly hold this area and its people close to our hearts and we hope to come back and visit in the future. Whilst the fight against the use of KSG for the Thames Tunnel continues, I’m personally confident that with everybody’s hard work, strength of feeling and commitment, the long-term preservation of this very special park for the community, visitors and future generations will soon become a reality.
There are exciting events and new initiatives being planned in the next year and I look forward to hearing about these. The committee and the members of SaveKSG continue to be a formidable force and it is great to know that the park is also in the safe hands of the Friends of Southwark Park, all at St Peter and the Guardian Angels church, the Bosco Centre and the Angel, local businesses, community and environmental groups that we have strong ties with and our elected representatives who have backed us all the way.
Thank you for the amazing opportunity to chair the SaveKSG campaign.
Chair, Save King’s Stairs Gardens Action Group