Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park and BMX bother

A bit late with this, but it’s worth recording anyway. Last week Greenwich Council renewed planning permission for the development of a diving centre at Charlton Lido, despite the original deal having collapsed some time back.

However, the planning board meeting did bring with it confirmation that Greenwich Leisure Limited is due to take on the lease from the stricken Open Waters Investments, which brings forward hope of some kind of revamp for the lido – and maybe even the diving centre will be built after all.

But there’s strong feelings around Hornfair Park at the moment. Local campaigner Toni Hale walked out of the meeting, angry about the construction of a three-storey building alongside the pool. There’s even stronger feelings about council plans to build a BMX track and improve the park’s tatty playing fields – a sensible idea, you might think, in an area where there’s absolutely nothing for young people to do.

Not so, according to the 500 people who have signed a petition against the plan. (The full application can be viewed here.)

Campaign manager Toni Hale said: “So far we have 500 signatures on our petition. There is just no need for a BMX track in the park. It could lead to an increase in crime and there are already other tracks in the borough.”

Those other tracks, in Woolwich, Lee and Eltham, aren’t really an easy ride for a youngster from Charlton or Kidbrooke, though. Should Hornfair Park be filled with the sounds of bikers and divers, should it be a quiet oasis?

30 thoughts on “Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park and BMX bother

  1. AdamB March 24, 2011 / 22:01

    Miserable sods. What leads to crime is kids having nothing to do and public spaces being deserted, not BMX tracks. I hope the petition doesn’t deter the council.

  2. Charlton Lane Dave March 25, 2011 / 07:21

    Hornfair Park needs something to attract the public. For far too long it’s been a field for dog-walkers and the results of dog-walking. If you have ever played football there you will know what I mean. Open the baths again and give the kids a BMX track.

  3. Manowar March 25, 2011 / 09:46


    Sorry mate, the argument that kids having nothing to do and thus creating crime is rubbish. I had nothing to do as a child – no after school clubs, no youth centres, no computers or computer games in fact, no organised anything! I didn’t commit crime and neither did my friends. In fact, I’m a policeman now and have been for years.

    It is impossible to argue that kids have nothing to do when the truth of the matter is that they have more to do than any previous generation. I would hazard a guess that it isn’t a lack of diversion for them. It is over indulgence and indifference. A childs idea of hardship in modern times is their mobile telephone reception being poor or not getting the latest ‘must have’ computer game.

    Here’s a revolutionary idea – instead of the BMX track why not create an oasis of quiet park with a cafe for people over 50 years old ONLY (btw – I’m way younger than that myself). No children, push bikes, radios or alcohol just somewhere older people can go as a safe refuge out in the open without any fear of any of the above? If you think the kids are hard done by you should look at our older generation who have sweet fanny adams provided for them. If anyone should be smashing up the streets and whining, its the OAPs!

    • Matt March 26, 2011 / 11:16

      Hi Manowar,

      Could you explain a little more what the factors might be as to why kid’s commit anti-social behaviour in places like Charlton. Is this something you feel has risen in recent years or do you feel kids will commit crime, no matter what age they live in and no matter what exciting activities/ groups they have in their local community?
      I’d be interested to know – especially from a policeman who has to deal with this sort of thing.
      Many thanks,


  4. Neil March 26, 2011 / 16:53

    Is there any actual evidence that BMX tracks lead to increased crime?

    It sounds like quite a good use of the park. And BMX is actually an Olympic sport (and one of the more accessible ones at that – particularly compared to, say, the equestrian events….).

  5. Suze March 31, 2011 / 09:37

    I’m sorry, but Hornfair Park has been the victim of serious underfunding from the Council in recent years and an oversized and ugly BMX track is simply not the answer. This is a community park for all ages and all local residents and any new facility should consider the wider needs of everyone who uses the park. I have looked at the plans on the council website and the track will sit directly on the green chain walk – have they considered this? It also looks like the track will be unstaffed and therefore open to anyone and everyone day or night. If the Council say that this won’t attract anti social behaviour and problems for the residents then they are again missing the point. A blot of the landscape!!!!

  6. Darryl March 31, 2011 / 12:59

    Why does a BMX track automatically mean bother, though?

  7. Chris R April 2, 2011 / 15:28

    Looking forward to dusting off my speedos and my classic 1986 Diamond Back! Cant wait for the pool and the track is a great idea – as someone who grew up around BMX and tracks (and kids!), you have nothing to fear! I do wonder that peoples attitudes to and fear of kids these days is actually part of the problem…

  8. caroline May 19, 2011 / 21:31

    Having read these comments it seems that the focus is that the residents are opposed to the bmx track soley due to fear of increased crime, IT IS NOT. Increased traffic, parking issues and noise levels are all concerns of people living here. Weekends with the Meridian boot fair/ football at the park often lead to a small invasion of people.Please do not insult us by telling us that everyone will use the marathon groundon shooters hill to park in as proposed by the council, they’ll park as close as possible as most seem unable to use their legs for any distance. The site for the track is also within woolwich common conservation area so building any structure should not be permitted.
    All residents welcome the regeneration of the lido area and the park has been used for football previously anyway so there will be increased parking/traffic through this. The drug dealing/crime is already in the park so the dealers will probably welcome the teen shelters with the track,to hide their goings on.
    More to the point, there is a bit of a grey area as to will the playpark be rejuvinated along with the lido as it all comes under the plans .if not put it on the proposed site of the track as that is far far more needed.
    We actually agree with the chap that perhaps keep that end of the park peacefull for elderlys to use as it is along the greenchain walk.
    anyhow as for miserable sods, if this was proposed backing onto your houses would you welcome it?…… no thought not.

  9. Toni Hale May 19, 2011 / 22:02

    Dear Darryl,

    What is the bother? let me tell you, ok for starters the criminal activity in the park at present is at an all time high with drug dealers and ASB. The illegal use of quad bikes and motorbikes in the park still continues. The fact that so many people are too scared to use the park because of the physical and verbal abuse they receive. Imagine a BMX dirt track for BMXs, I doubt it! I can see it being used for illegal activity and no child will be able to use the BMX track as it will be taken over teenagers and older adults. Anyway, why would you want your young child using a track that reports to be one of the most dangerous sports in the world. This will not be monitored nor will it be supervised. The park here is open 24 hours a day as it is in a Green Chain Walk area which means the community that surround it will be victimised throughout the day and night.

    I am not apposed to BMX tracks but there will be an Olympic one situated right outside the Olympic bike area which after the Olympics will be open to the public. The BMX track in Woolwich could have easily been extended being on the water front and not surrounded by residents, plus a good use of parking facilities available.

    Again the Council are wasting Tax Payers money on things that are unnecessary. The Lido is going to be refurbished and will cost the Tax Payer 2 1/2 million does that please you, knowing full well that the Council have made several cuts in the borough but are allowing this. It is ludicrous that such money can be wasted on sports facilities that will not be utilised. You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

    There is a planning board meeting on the 26th May 2011 6.30pm at the Woolwich Town Hall. I am still campaigning against this for many reasons and not just for the reasons I have mentioned. I list of signatures are nearly up to 1000 and I think that speaks for itself.

    Toni Hale

  10. John GM May 21, 2011 / 10:12

    I walk through Hornfair regularly and have never seen any criminal activity. The Council has already decided to close the park at nights – saw notices this morning announcing the installation of new gates. I doubt these will deter those whose aim is anti-social activity. Its a great shame for those who enjoy early morning or evening runs/walks especially as this is part of the Green Chain. The best way to keep parks safe is surely to encourage people to use them at convenient times. A BMX ttrack and pool will achieve this provided that access is not restricted.

    • caroline May 22, 2011 / 21:56

      The parks closing of gates will be at dusk and opened at dawn so unless jogging or going for a stroll in the dark is something people do I doubt if locking gates is a problem. True it wont stop drug dealing or ASBO but thats for the police to deal with. We use the park at least 3 times a day and trust me there is criminal goings on.

  11. Keith July 14, 2011 / 10:21

    As a local resident I fully support the new proposals for Hornfair Park and especially the BMX track! The argument that it will attract more crime to the area is not backed up by fact I’m afraid and appears to be a rather reactionary viewpoint. Surely we should be providing MORE outdoor facilities for our children to enjoy and should be encouraging them to get outside, play and have some fun (perhaps some of you adults should think back and try to recall your own childhoods and how things have changed).

    There will always be a certain element that complain whenever change comes about because of fear of the unknown but that doesn’t mean they’re right (I’m sorry but the word NIMBY springs immediately to mind – would you all be complaining if the track was being built in Greenwhich Park for example?).

    To be honest I can’t wait to take my two young sons along to the track next summer and let them experience for themselves the thrill and exhilaration of such a great sport.

    • Tina July 14, 2011 / 13:50

      I suppose you don’t live on top of Horn Fair Park?
      It is funny you say it will not attract more ASB because I have been witnessing it for myself. Chilldren going on to the BMX track, even though it is out of bounds, throwing stones at the security guard, who by the way is too scared to come out of his hut, rightly so. Smashing equipment and digging up the mounds, great, I surpose this is a good outdoor activity to learn, ASB, maybe there will be a degree in the field!

      • Keith July 14, 2011 / 14:44

        The fact is that ASB will exist if this project goes ahead or not. It certainly didn’t create it (it was there already as many people have stated) and nothing can solve it in one foul swoop but you have to look at the bigger picture here and providing young people with something to do in the evenings and on weekends is a very good place to start. There is a strong link between kids being bored and ASB so I would have thought residents would welcome any projects that may help to change that dynamic.

        I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on how to solve ASB and crime caused by young people. It’s very easy to complain about something without offering any solutions…

  12. Tina July 14, 2011 / 15:26

    Been there and done that and a 1000 people in the area around the park have also been there and tried to offer their help and advice to improve the quality and the use of the park. No one is interested, meaning those who put through this ridiculous ‘white elephant’ and those who are not interested in the thoughts and feelings of the community. The problems that occur in the park have not just come about they have been there for a long time and there have been extensive concerns regarding the use of motorbikes, quadbikes, verbal and physical abuse, drug dealing, to name but a few. Having this BMX dirt track in place will only increase the issues that have been raised time and time again. Why should we now offer our help and eradicate these issues of ASB and its increase, we will stand back and let those who said this is all good to sort the problems out but be warned we will be saying ‘We told you so!’ when it all backfires!

  13. ThePirateKing July 14, 2011 / 15:40

    Tina – given that it’s your own backyard, I find it a bit surprising that you are almost wishing the project to fail.

    As other comments have said, it is a general truth that people ask for more things for kids to do, but never want them on their actual doorsteps for all the obvious reasons.

    I live about 15 minutes walk away from Horn Fair Park and I’d hope in future years to take my kids over there to the bike track. I hope that it does work out.

  14. Gary October 13, 2011 / 22:01

    I walked past the BMX site on Sunday and was pleased to see children of all ages enjoying themselves, not a yob or criminal activity in sight, stop moaning, you can’t expect to live by a park and not see young people, petty mindedness is so infuriating, I never knew we had so many killjoys living locally..get a life !!! I am even tempted to take my bike up to the track and give it a go, and I am 46

    • Toni Hale October 14, 2011 / 15:35

      Funny that because I was also there at the BMX site on Sunday and it was a ghost town. No one in site, no one on the track, only a few dog walkers at the paddling pool side of the park. What about the football, when will that start?

      What was quite ironic is that I saw the mayor there and he went on to of the mound of the BMX site looking bewildered and lonely………..I wish I got that photo that would have been a classic to have on the front cover of the newspaper.

  15. gary October 15, 2011 / 09:07

    Tony, was you by chance the guy on the silver BMX ?

  16. gary October 15, 2011 / 09:10

    who would have thought the mayor had a BMX ?

  17. Toni Hale October 15, 2011 / 09:19

    No, by the way its TONI, female. No the Mayor did not on that day have a BMX. Maybe he was going there to see the BMX dirt track at its busiest and seeing it used so well. Well that is what they told me in a letter when I asked what is happening to rest of the park. Sinse the rest of it is a mess.

    • gary October 15, 2011 / 11:10

      Sorry Toni, saw my mistake as soon as I had posted my comment. so it wasn’t you on the BMX then ..heheh

  18. Toni Hale October 15, 2011 / 11:16

    Apology accepted, definitely not me on the BMX though I am sure my mountain bike would manage the track however, do I want to break my neck in doing so? I think not.
    Has anybody actually read all the rules on the notice board as you go in, I got bored after reading the first 5.

  19. Toni Hale October 15, 2011 / 19:12

    Did anyone know about the trouble since the BMX track has been in place? Well the security that were placed there had to endure quite abit, they had enough evidence with all their crime numbers pinned to the inside of their cabin. One evening nearly lost their portaloo when it was set on fire, stones thrown at them and verbal abuse. They even reported two boys about 12 years smoking weed behind their cabin. On the first weekend of the opening of the track one young boy had his BMX stolen and one couple were seen trying to steal the turf. Great stuff, so it all looks good? Yeah right, lol.

  20. Toni Hale October 16, 2011 / 09:12

    Has anyone noticed the signs in Hornfair Park where it states;
    ‘No Cyclying’………oops!

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