Council planning board approves Hornfair Park BMX track

Barking BMX track (photo courtesy of sozalled via flickr)

Greenwich council planning board approved plans for a BMX bike track in Hornfair Park on Thursday evening. The meeting, held at Woolwich town hall, was well attended and included numerous speakers both for and against the track. These plans are part of a £2.8m scheme to revamp the sports facilities in the area paid for by the London mayor’s sports fund. Also included is an artificial cricket pitch and upgrades for the lido, paddling pool, basketball courts and children’s play area. The bike track looks set to be ready by the end of the summer. Paul Martindill, head of sporting legacy at Greenwich council said:

“This site was chosen as it’s particularly appealing to children and families…..and for its proximity to lots of schools.”

He went on to explain that kids could start riding on the course from the age of four or five. There would be midweek and weekend sessions reserved for a local club and schools would have allocated time slots too. He anticipated that 75% of the time would be for general use where anybody could turn up and ride.

In total 1,276 people in close proximity were consulted. The opposition to the track has included a petition with 577 signatures, 149 letters objecting and comments posted on this blog. Toni Hale, a resident and former pool attendant at the lido, spoke on behalf of the campaign against the park proposal:

“We’re not against it being a sports facility, we’re just against it being a BMX dirt track……Olympic legacy is just a branding.”

The campaign have highlighted a long list of reasons why it shouldn’t be built. For the most part these concerns have been answered by the council. Team shelters have been removed from the proposals after thoughts they may be used as hangouts for drug dealers. Black tarmac for the track surface has been changed to green to comply with conservation area guidelines. There was confirmation it will not impede on the Green Chain Walk and the Green Chain Working Party have expressed their support for the facility. The campaign group highlighted that the Woolwich riverside skate park should be extended to include this BMX track. It was noted at the meeting that this skate park is due to be demolished as part of the ongoing Woolwich Arsenal developments. Potential noise pollution was deemed minimal by Peter Cattermoul from British Cycling. A 77 metre radius from the nearest house also seemed to suggest it wouldn’t cause any more noise than that of the adjacent football pitches. Campaigners spoke of parking problems caused by Meridian sports club and Charlton Athletic FC. Public transport and the limit of 30 people per supervised session are said to have stopped the need for additional parking arrangements.

Representatives from local schools were there to talk on behalf of the younger generation. Jan Beames the headteacher of Cherry Orchard Primary said:

“Importantly, this is boys and girls, away from Xboxes, out of their flats and into the fresh air.”

She went on read out quotes she had compiled from her pupils. One simply stated:

“Not all children want to cause trouble, we want this track so we can cause some fun”.

PhotobucketWeekly Greenwich Time newspaper was criticised at several points during the two hour meeting. Pictures of children in newly purchased BMX equipment appeared on the front cover of last week’s edition. This enraged campaigners that saw it as a sign that this proposal was already a “done deal”. Former Lib-Dem councillor Paul Webbewood even attended the meeting to talk about the faults of the newspaper and not of the BMX track itself.

It seems there were two underlying points that were left for the planning board to make their own judgement on. The first is the clear safety issue. Riders will be unsupervised for three quarters of its opening times. Cycling officials spoke about how races can be self-regulated and how the track met the requirements of ROSPA guidelines. Adequate entrances for the emergency services were mentioned as well as signs that state the need for wearing safety equipment. No doubt there will be accidents but the question is how many and how dangerous a sport is BMX? Could this track instead reduce the need for local children to cycle on roads?

There was also the much discussed issue of anti social behaviour, which campaigners have highlighted is currently a problem. Not so long ago the Audit Commission came to the conclusion that sport prevented anti-social behaviour in children. With the addition of the Olympics the government are certainly driving this idea. The redevelopment of the park and lido in general is hoped to populate the park more. Would Hornfair park become a safer place? Or could it get worse as the gates might not prevent mopeds and motorbikes accessing the park? What happens when night falls and the park is closed? Could someone scale the 1.8m fence if they wanted to? Would a bike track increase the chance of someone trying? Barking BMX track, often cited as inspiration for this one, hasn’t been without its own fair share of vandalism.

The voting finished fairly unanimously, Tory councillor Dermot Poston abstained with the rest approving. Cllr Poston’s reasoning was:

“This is a local park and we’re are a local planning board for local people. We are acquiescing for something that people don’t want.”

It could be said that half of the people consulted do not want this bike track constructed. With a majority vote plans will be under way and Hornfair Park will have a new addition by September.


Charlton Park and a Village sandwich bar – can you help?

A question from Sarah:

“Just wondering if you knew what was happening in Charlton Park? I was there on Thursday morning and there are some piles of earth inside the old running track area, and another one on the corner opposite the outside gym. Plus a couple of workers seem to have dug a square in the middle of the rugby pitch (above) – perhaps they’re turning it into a cricket pitch?”

And another from Andy:

“I see that Charlton is getting a new sandwich bar (in the old dress shop) – know any details?”

I can’t help on either of these questions – but can you?

Bored with supermarket plonk? Try Charlton’s new wine merchant

Before we begin I’d just like to mention I’m a die-hard stout drinker so what I know about wine you could write on the back of a first class stamp.

A few weeks back I travelled to the excellent Blackheath Cooks for a free night of wine tasting. There waiting for me was an evening with Everyday Wines and some very pleasant company from fellow SE7 and SE3 residents. Everyday Wines is Ben and Svenja. The office is in their conservatory and the warehouse is in Belvedere. It was set up last year to stop the need for people rooting around supermarkets looking for the best deals. All the wine is from the Languedoc Rousillion region of France. Ben explains, “I picked grapes down there when I was a student so I know the area quite well”. All bottles are £5.50 and are available in crates of six, and yes, you can mix and match a crate.

There’s seven wines on offer and I’m told this will grow over time. Each is accompanied by an audio clip from the evening so they can explain each for themselves:

Rosé BIO Cinsault Grenacherose

Picpoul de Pinet Le Jade 2009picpoul

Viognier Le Jade 2009viognier

Muscat Sec ‘Larmes d’Alexandra’muscat

Domaine Pujol Izard 2008pujol

Jaja de Jau – Syrah 2009syrah

Jaja de Jau – Carignan 2009



It was an enjoyable evening. At one stage I felt far too drunk to be talking civilised to strangers. After mingling some more I quickly realised we were all in the same boat. I left with a mixed crate under my arm and I am currently in the process of ordering a couple more. I can highly recommend all the wines but the one that stuck out for me was the Syrah. It says on their website that they are “so confident that you will like all of our wines, that we offer a full exchange or refund guarantee on unopened bottles”. I’m such a fan of the Syrah that if you don’t like it I’ll probably give you the money myself .

Everyday Wines have an online shop and can deliver to your door. I believe they currently only deliver to the SE3, SE7 and SE10 post codes. They are also willing to arrange a wine tasting evening so you can experince them before buying. If you’re a local group or association and you want Ben and Svenja to visit then contact them. They can even send you a box to try by yourselves if you like. I’m not on commission by the way.

Here’s some audio of them explaining a little more about the company:

Hurry, it’s half price curry…

Our Bramshot Avenue correspondent Boneyboy has a nose for a bargain…

“The Haweli Tandoori takeaway opens on Monday 23rd May in the premises on Bramshot Avenue previously occupied by Desi Spice. Leaflets delivered locally and a sign in the window offer 50% off menu prices in their first week.

The menu offers what I would describe as standard Indian takeaway fare. The leaflet delivered through my door contains a number of errors, including a wrong telephone number, corrected by hand , and directions that Bramshot Avenue is “off Victoria Way and Westcombe Avenue”. Let’s hope their cooking is better than the proofreading.”

Your considered opinions on Haweli’s fare would be welcome.

Hornfair Park BMX track: The opposing view

Greenwich Council’s planning board decides on Thursday whethera BMX track should be built in Hornfair Park. Many neighbours are opposed to the track. Campaign spokeswoman Toni Hale explains why.

The criminal activity in the park at present is at an all time high with drug dealers and anti-social behaviour. The illegal use of quad bikes and motorbikes in the park still continues. 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.

Why would you want your young child using a track that is reported 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 opposed 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, with good parking facilities available.

Again the Council are wasting taxpayers’ money on things that are unnecessary. The Lido is going to be refurbished and will cost £2.5 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 at 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.

This is an edited version of a comment placed on the earlier post. I thought it might be worth putting this topic to a vote – is Toni right, or are her – and her neighbours’ – fears misplaced? Please share your views in the comments below.

Open mic in Charlton (and slightly beyond)

Musician and photographer Neil Clasper has some advice for you if you like live music and don’t want to travel far…

Ever fancied performing in public? Been playing an instrument at home and want a new challenge? Or do you simply fancy hearing some live music and meeting some local musicians over a beer?

Charlton now has two regular open mic nights running on alternate weeks at the Antigallican and Royal Oak pubs – plus the well-established night at the British Oak just over the SE3 border on Old Dover Road. These are a great opportunity for performers with any level of experience to play in a welcoming, supportive atmosphere. Performers get a chance to play 2-3 songs (more if it’s a quiet night).

A PA and mics are provided but you’ll need to bring your own guitar/ keyboard/ ukulele/ whatever.

Antigallican – alternate Wednesdays
428 Woolwich Road SE7 8SU
020 8853 0143

Royal Oak – alternate Thursdays
54 Charlton Lane SE7 8LA
020 8858 4771

British Oak – every Tuesday
109 Old Dover Road SE3 8SU
020 8858 1082

You can find out more about what’s going on in the open mic scene around the borough at a new blog: