Marathon Dan

Mo Farah in the London Marathon 2014 at Ha Ha Road
Mo Farah in the London Marathon 2014 at Ha Ha Road

Shooters Hill Councillor Danny Thorpe will be running the Virgin London Marathon on 24th April to raise money for the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice. We can sponsor Danny through his justgiving page here:

Danny’s page provides some background:

As part of the Mayor of Greenwich’s Marathon Team, I’m really pleased to be running for this AMAZING local organisation, the Greenwich & Bexley Hospice. Lots of us have been affected by cancer in one way or another, and this money will help the hospice to build a new sensory garden, a place for patients and their families to enjoy.

The Mayor is also raising money for the Early Dove School in Zambia.

Also in the Mayor’s team are: Councillors Mehboob Khan and Chris Lloyd and Vicky Nock. It’s a great cause, let’s hope they raise lots of money.

London Marathon 2014 at Ha Ha Road
London Marathon 2014 at Ha Ha Road

Local Enthusiasms

English Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee fancy dress parade in Eltham Park South
English Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee fancy dress parade in Eltham Park South Doggie Fun Day

From books to Bull Terriers, via  ukuleles, steam trains and a dipping pond: an eclectic set of personal passions were on public display last weekend on or around Shooters Hill.

The weekend started on Friday with the official opening of the Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond. Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote describing the event:

On Friday 15th June Friends of Eaglesfield Park wanted to share and celebrate with our local community that the once lost and forgotten pond has been restored into a wonderful wildlife pond with a dipping platform that hopefully will now become a focal point for visitors to the park. To Commemorate the opening The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich officially “cut the tape” and opened the gate to the dipping platform. We certainly won’t forget which year the restored pond was opened – 2012 (we became the Royal Borough of Greenwich, The London Olympics and The Royal Diamond Jubilee!). The day will also hold a further significance for several children who tried out our pond dipping platform. They received a unique certificate to commemorate they were part of the opening ceremony and among the first people (children or adult !) to use the pond dipping platform.

Opening the Eaglesfield Lilly Pond
Opening the Eaglesfield Lilly Pond

Although our large marquees would have provided shelter, we were indeed lucky to have good (well reasonable) weather and our planned celebrations opened in true carnival spirit with the children of Plumcroft and Christ Church primary schools in vibrant costume and displaying their considerable drumming and dancing talents. We would like to thank TARU Arts, a local Woolwich based community Arts Project, for the great job they have done working with the local schools in the lead up to this event and in organising the festivities. Of course we would also very much like to thank the Staff and children from Plumcroft and Christ Church Schools for taking part with such enthusiasm.
Throughout the day TARU provided drumming and hat making workshop opportunities and face painting for the children. Add to this a vibrant Brazilian Jazz Band and Zumba dancing and the aroma of delicious spicy food provided by Guarida Community Cafe, we indeed enjoyed a festive celebration. Who needs sunshine anyway!
The wildlife pond area looks wonderful and we would like to say thank you to the “diggers and gardeners” for their time and enthusiasm (and tools!) for helping to create the wildlife meadow surrounding the pond. The pond is already attracting tadpoles, small frogs, water skaters, leech, newts and, as yet, unidentified “bugs” and visits from two mallard ducks. The wildlife flower seeds have been sown, but it is next year that we can expect a colourful display.

Following the enthusiastic drumming and dancing on Friday, a different enthusiasm was on display early on Saturday morning in the bibliophilic queue at the Church of the Ascension in Blackheath for the Amnesty Blackheath & Greenwich Book Sale. The technique adopted by the most sadly enthusiastic is to grab an old cardboard box and quickly fill it with as many books from your favourite sections as you can and then to sit at the altar end and  sort through them to decide what you really want. My more modest selection included Jon Snow’s “Shooting History”, which I was really pleased to discover later at home  had been autographed by the author. I’m looking forward to seeing Jon in conversation with some of the Elders at the Barbican next week.

Later at the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch  2012 Annual Community Fete there were opportunities to join in a very wide range of local enthusiasms, such as sporting (Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club, Shooters Hill Golf Club, Woolwich and Plumstead Bowling Club), Conservation (Woodlands Farm, Shrewsbury and Eaglesfield Park Friends‘ Groups, pond dipping) and historical (Shooters Hill Local History Group, Severndroog Castle Preservation Society) together with a strong contingent from the Metropolitan Police. Entertainment was provided by The Fleas Ukulele band. Unfortunately I had to leave when the bagpiper started.

Bull Terrier in fancy dress
Bull Terrier in fancy dress

A gentle walk across Oxleas Meadows and through Shepardleas Wood took me to Eltham Park South, where the Doggie Fun Day was in full swing. The highlight was the Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee  fancy dress parade and competition. I felt slightly sorry for the indignity suffered by the dogs in their imaginative costumes ….  such as a jousting horse, lots of England football fans and a Sherlock Holmes complete with waxed jacket and deerstalker hat. Sherlock suffered added indignity when the compere announced that he had come as a tramp. The well-deserved winners of the competition, and the Jane McInnes Trophy cup, were a pair of English Bull Terriers dressed up as pearly king and queen. There was a special commendation for a bull terrier who entered as a very convincing chihuahua (in fact I think it was an actual  chihuahua pretending to be a bull terrier pretending to be a chihuahua).  The competition included Bull Terriers rescued by Absolute Bull Terrier Rescue.

Finally, Sunday was one of Welling and District Model Engineering Society’s  public running dates. The WDMES is a group of enthusiasts for model steam trains, many of them former engineers who build the model trains themselves, fabricating the precision-engineered components necessary for the steam engines. On the public running day engines of varying sizes are put through their paces, but the main attraction is to ride on one of the trains on the 1268 feet 3.5″ and 5″ gauge raised steel track.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society  public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

What a very varied set of enthusiasms and enthusiasts!  There are more photographs on the e-Shootershill Flickr site.

Equestrian Centre Leaps Final Fences

The controversial Equestrian Centre that is proposed for the area between Woodlands Farm and Thompsons Garden Centre on Shooters Hill Road has passed two potential barriers to its implementation. Both the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State have decided not to intervene in Greenwich Council’s decision to grant approval for the Centre.

The Mayor’s letter stated:

Having now considered a report on this case (reference PDU/2760/GK02 copy enclosed), I am content to allow Greenwich Council to determine the case itself, subject to any action that the Secretary of State may take, and therefore do not wish to direct refusal.

However I request that Natural England are fully consulted in relation to the discharge of condition 22 regarding the ecological mitigation and management plan.

And that from the Secretary of State’s representative:

The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the 1999 Caborn Statement. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.
The Secretary of State has carefully considered the impact of the proposal and the key policy issues, which this case raises. In his opinion, the proposals do not: involve a conflict with national policies on important matters; have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial regional or national controversy; raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or involve the interests of national security or of Foreign Governments. Nor does he consider that there is any other sufficient reason to call the application in for his own determination.
The decision as to whether to grant planning permission will therefore remain with Greenwhich Council.

The decision does include 31 conditions, including a stipulation that there should be a minimum of 82 horse-riding hours a week access to the facilities by the local community, a prior programme of archaeological work and production of an Ecological Mitigation and Management Plan.

The report accompanying the decision reveals that 12 sites were considered as possible locations for the centre, most of them local sports grounds and playing fields, and the brief reasons why they were discounted.

It also states that the Council are seeking agreement for the Blackheath donkeys to move to a site in Woodbrook Road.

Perhaps most importantly the report mentions the “very special circumstances” that are necessary to justify development on Metropolitan Open Land. Mentions but doesn’t detail…  in the words of the Mayor’s report:

The ‘very special circumstances’ put forward to justify the harm to MOL regarding Olympic legacy, increasing participation in sport, education, community benefit, lack of alternative sites and the financial justification from connection activity on the site are now, on balance, acceptable, and the application complies with London Plan policy.

So that seems to be that. Greenwich Council is allowed to decide on the planning application that they themselves have put forward.

Plan of the area where the Centre will be as it is now taken from the planning documents
Plan of the area where the Centre will be as it is now
Plan of the area where the centre will be after the Centre is built taken from the planning documents
Plan of the area after the Centre is built

26 Sep Consultation: Eaglesfield Park Trim Trail

The neighbourhood watchers write:

As part of the Green Flag Award Scheme and the Olympics legacy, Greenwich Council is keen to stimulate the use of our parks and open spaces, and increase the fitness of residents.

In support the council plans to install a small trim trail in Eaglesfield Park by the end of March 2012 and is seeking your view on the style of equipment and proposed location.

You can meet the Parks and Open Spaces team on Monday 26 September, from 4:30 to 8pm, at the drop-in public consultation session at the Shrewsbury House Community Centre, Bushmoor Crescent.

A display will be available where you can learn more about the proposal, and ask the parks team any questions.

It will only take about 10 minutes and you’ll have a chance to complete a simple questionnaire to register your views.

So why not pop along and share your thoughts on changes taking place in the community.

A Sportier Hill

As well as being home to bowls and tennis clubs, Shooters Hill is just about to get a bit sportier with the arrival of two ballgames franchises in the area, which leads one to wonder if this is could be interpreted as evidence of a growing interest in games as part of the run up to the Olympics.

One the hand we’ve got Little Kickers:

Shooters Hill Christ Church – Saturdays
Christ Church Hall, Shooters Hill Road, London, SE18 3RS

Time Course Availability
9.15 – 10.00am Little Kicks Available
10.15 – 11.00am Junior Kickers Available
11.15 – 12.00pm Mighty Kickers Available

New members will be charged a one off registration fee of £16.00 . Your registration fee gives you a FREE Little Kickers football strip and priority re-registration.

Course Age No. Sessions Cost
Junior Kickers 2 – 3.5; yrs 12 £78.00
Junior Kickers 2 – 3.5; yrs 6 £39.00
Little Kicks 1½ – 2yrs 3mth 12 £78.00
Little Kicks 1½ – 2yrs 3mth 6 £39.00
Mighty Kickers 3.5; – 5th b’day 12 £78.00
Mighty Kickers 3.5; – 5th b’day 6 £39.00

… and on the other we’ve got:

Ruggerbeez. Apparently following an initial period of marketing, classes are to be launched in the near future at Shooters Hill RFC.

Bowls Tryout

Recently I went down to try our local bowling green at the Woolwich and Plumstead Bowling club as part of their early season free bowling offer. The free games lasted for two weeks, and to bowl from this point on, one would have to join the club (£55 in the first year, £110 thereafter), with matches at weekends and open sessions in the week.

The idea of inviting people in for a try was to reach out to potential members, and during my go I felt very comfortable and welcome, and could easily imagine myself playing bowls to unwind after a long day.

The only downside from my point of view was the dress-code…but apart from that, £55 to be able to bowl any day of the week seems very reasonable.

Shooters Hill Stables?

Today i was lucky enough to come across a copy of senine, a glossy and entertaining magazine that also has some excellent features relevant to the wider area. One story in this month’s edition particularly caught my eye. In a piece entitled Horse Play they detail proposals that could markedly change the Shooters Hill area by a) placing lots of horses in what is currently the donkey field between woodlands farm and thompsons garden centre, b) by exercising those horses in Oxleas Wood, and c) by increasing the to- and fro-ing of their handlers and vehicles, which may include a new horseback regiment due to move into the garrison. The SSSI designation awarded to the eastern slopes of Oxleas Wood, the attempts to build ringway2 and elrc over it, and the fairly recent development on woodland of the extended café car park and the recently permitted mixed-mode play area for christchurch school and public use (post to follow) mean that the integrity of one of London and nwkent’s last surviving, and in some ways unique (number of wild service trees for instance), areas of ancient woodland continues to require continual and vigilant protection in order to sustain it’s distinct ecology and survival.

Proposals for a new ‘Olympic legacy’ horse riding centre are on course for opening in 2012, SEnine has learned.

The centre will provide stabling for more than 40 horses on the slopes of Shooters Hill.

Maney for the £1m plus centre will come from a variety of sources, including £250,000 from the British Equestrian Federation and match-funding from Greenwich Council Olympic Legacy project.

The location is expected to be between Thompson’s Garden Centre and Woodlands Farm on a council-owned site currently grazed by donkeys from Blackheath.

Detailed plans are expected to be ready for consultation in the New Year but will run into strong opposition from members of the Woodlands Farm Trust concerned at the over-development of open land.

The new centre is intended to increase access to horse riding across the borough and will also include provision for riding for the disabled.

There will also be a link-up with the relocation to Woolwich of the country’s foremost equestrian Army brigade, the King’s Troop, Officers from the Troop, who will move into the former Royal Artillery barracks, will give their time to training at Shooters Hill as part of their commitment to community engagement

As well as stabling, there will also be new indoor and outdoor exercise rings. However, plans to allow the horses to gallop on surrounding land are expected to be opposed by Woodlands Farm and conservationists. Oxleas Woods, are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and horse exercise would churn up paths and leave droppings which could change the area’s delicate ecology.

Chair of the Trust Dr Barry Gray said: “It would be a massive over-development of Metropolitan Open Land and lead to increased traffic in the area. The council seems to take no notice of its own policies for nature conservation and open space.”

I also found a relevant story from 17 December 2009 on the british equestrian federation site, so this is not a new idea at all. I’m not sure why it’s surfaced on the pages of senine now, and can’t find any planning applications on the council website, the land is apparently theirs, so I’m not sure what the consultation process would be, but presumably if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen some time this year.

Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the British Equestrian Federation says: ” … The centre, which is proposed at Shooters Hill, just a stone’s throw from the Olympic equestrian venue [I’d like to see someone throw a stone to Greenwich Park, ed.], will provide a lasting sporting, community and educational legacy for the equestrian community in the city. This project will also be supported by significant local authority funding. ”

Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council said; “We see the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a tremendous opportunity to inspire people to take up sports and are doing all we can to develop a new equestrian centre in Greenwich, as well as a host of other new sports facilities.

“A new equestrian centre will not only introduce thousands of London children to the thrill of horse riding, it will also provide educational and training opportunities for many people for years to come. Our plans are to provide a top quality training centre so that people can gain skills and qualifications in an area that will open up opportunities across the world.

“The Games aren’t just a 17-day sports event for London – they are a chance to create new opportunities and inspire people and we have to start now so that the benefits can last for generations to come.”