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.

34 thoughts on “Hornfair Park BMX track: The opposing view

  1. Matt May 20, 2011 / 13:08

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the lido and bike track being paid out of a ‘sports grant’? Meaning it’s ring-fenced money that is being put forward to create an Olympic legacy. Thus, the council coudln’t spend this money on other services even if they wanted to.
    It is annoying that while sports facilities in this borough seems to be on the rise other services such as the arts seems to be floundering. But isn’t this part and parcel of London holding the Olympics?
    I wasn’t aware of the anti-social behaviour surrounding the park but this needs to be highlighted at the planning meeting. With regards to whether the bike track will be used regularly – we can only speculate. Every time I walk past the basketball court over in Charlton park it’s always packed out and seems well worth the money.

  2. neilclasper May 20, 2011 / 13:17

    Surely the issues of illegal and anti-social behaviour need resolving regardless of whether the BMX track gets built?

    • Toni Hale May 25, 2011 / 10:41

      Yes you would think…! We conducted a survey in October 2010 to ask the opinions of the residents and the general public in the area about their use of the park, the crime in the park and whether they had been a victim of crime and whether they wanted the park closed. At present it is open 24 hours per day. We had the help of the local SNT and the Council regarding the questions so as not to be bias. You can see these results if you follow this link.

  3. john Fahy May 20, 2011 / 18:19

    Toni is intitled to her point of view. I happen to believe that it is misguided. I went to the Barking BMX track in Barking some two weeks ago. It was packed with families all engaging in the activity. We were told vandalism had reduced significantly in the area.If planning permission is granted the site will be managed through a Club. The development of Hornfair Park is funded through the ring fenced funding from the Council for Sporting Legacy. Additional funding has come from the London Community Sports Board. The Park will be secured overnight with increased Fencing and Gates. The creation of a Sports Hub will be a wonderful facility for young and old.

    • Toni Hale May 22, 2011 / 22:38

      Yes, I am intitled to my opinion however, these are not just my opinions. I would like to try and understand why you have compared this park with a park in Barking they have no relation to each other. Here are some other issues of concern that may be of interest. The Green Chain Walk will be affected by the placement of the BMX dirt track. BMX will be specifically for over 18 year olds, there are no parking facilities, there will be no where for dogs, noise pollution, illegal motorbike use, devaluing of properties, the aesthetics and that no procedes earned from this will be going back into the partk not to forget that Horfair Park is actually in a conservation area. So who will earn from it? Who will be building it and maintaining it or is it us the Tax Payer again going to finance this white Elephant? How much is the Lido going to cost 2 1/2 Million who is paying for that? Oh yes Greenwich Leisure which means again we will be financing it. Where is the survey where you gathered statistical information on whether this was a sporting facility the local community wanted? The one BMX dirt track that you took to be a good source of information was from the one in Norwich which I visited. It is not surrounded by residnets so why again I ask would you have something like this in a residential area…….again ludicrous. See you at the Planning Board meeting.

      • Darryl May 22, 2011 / 23:52

        Don’t planning documents state it will be mostly “children and young people” using the track?

        And isn’t Greenwich Leisure an independent organisation?

      • Toni Hale May 24, 2011 / 15:46

        Yes the planning does suggest young children and teenagers….it also reports that there will be a sign on the facility to state the dangers. It does not mention a club using this facility therefore realistically who will be using it? Greenwich Leisure is owned, at arms length, by Greenwich Council however, Greenwich Council will not admit this fact and Greenwich Leisure has independence in other areas in London.

  4. BoneyBoy May 20, 2011 / 23:18

    The papers for the Planning Board that will decide this application are now published on the Council web site.

    The proposals seem to include secure fencing of the track, and requirement that its managed by a club to an approved management plan, so perhaps Toni’s concerns about uncontrolled use are addressed by this ?

  5. caroline May 22, 2011 / 21:46

    The crime aspect is only one issue as to why local residents here have no wish to have the track situated in the proposed site. Firstly it is too residential for the extra noise and parking problems it will create. Prince Henry Road ,Indigo Jones and Charlton Park Lane all suffer severe parking and increased traffic problems at weekends with Meridan boot fair and football and football in the park.It is already like a small invasion at weekends. It has been said that parking at the Marathon ground will be offered but that is in no way enough spaces and being realistic people will park as close to where they are going regardless.
    The drug dealing and groups hanging about sporadically are already in the park. I should imagine that the ‘shelters’ at the track will be very welcome and used accordingly.
    The site is also proposed within the woolwich conservation area (clues in the wording there) ,so whilst the football, cricket and rugby do not involve excavating and structures being built (which looking at the plans will be extensive) the track does. Why could something not be put there that will compliment the green chain walk or say, for our more older residents?
    Residents welcome the regeration of the park and lido, however within reason to our wellbeing and living environment.
    Why is it that greenwich council does not listen to the needs of its consituants
    for the sake of money (as we suspect this is what it boils down to) and is happy to make locals lives even more disrupted by encouraging an influx of more people to the vacinity.
    Lastly before you start commenting bare in mind, if this was proposed to the rear of your property would you be welcoming it?…. no thought not.

  6. suze_mac May 23, 2011 / 19:39

    Dear voices of reason, I’ve spent some time looking through the details on the application and this track is going to be 1) enormous and 2) an eyesore! Call me sceptical but has anyone really looked at how big this is going to be????? 3.5m high jumps at the start hill and 80 metres long! Sorry, but does this not pose a big problem if trouble makers needs a place to hide???? It’s an open invitation to congregate and carry on with the crime that has blighted our area. Have they also considered privacy when people are standing at the top of the start hill and are facing houses? I bet not. I’m suspicous of a Council application that fails to properly show details and how it impacts on the park. Blurred and “floating in the air” drawings don’t comfort me at all – how are we supposed to judge on the basis of this????. Fingers crossed that they see sense on Thursday, but a photo in the Council Times of Councillor Roberts promoting the scheme several months ago suggests its a done deal!

    • Toni Hale May 24, 2011 / 15:51

      Not only this publication but I expect another one is due this week when they had a BMX trainer in the park giving an introductory class to primary school children. Not only that but the cutting down of trees to make way, I assume for ther lorries that will need to enter the park from Stane Way to remove all the dirt. There were no signs to report trees were going to removed nor why they had to be removed!!!

    • Toni Hale May 24, 2011 / 15:52

      Not only this publication but I expect another one is due this week when they had a BMX trainer in the park giving an introductory class to primary school children. Not only that but the cutting down of trees to make way, I assume for the Lorries that will need to enter the park from Stane Way to remove all the dirt. There were no signs to report trees were going to removed or why they had to be removed!!!

  7. Paul Webbewood May 24, 2011 / 16:33

    As anticipated above, there is a one-sided piece in this week’s Greenwich Time, featuring several pro-track people but no mention of the opposition to it. Poor show.

    • suze May 25, 2011 / 13:43

      Spot on Paul and Toni! Picked up greenwich Time on way from the shops and there it is on front page and page 3!! They have clearly made up their mind on this but they should be fair on all who have concerns.To me it begs a very big question: how can a board of Labour councillors decide on an application if the same council has already gone to print saying that they “already have the machines, helmets and shirts for the club”!!!!!!!!!! for a club”that’s going to be set up”!!!!!!!!!!! They cannot show that the judgement isnt unbiased now – they’ve already decided. Think that the ombusdman should be contacted and called in on this as there is no way that tomorrows decision can be fair.or go to a court review if we could??? Know it looks like im being miserable – im not (honest) – just want to feel consulted and that any decision isnt prejudiced and already made before we are listened to. Get it on the agenda people cos this isnt following the right process withh consultation!

  8. suze_mac May 24, 2011 / 18:58

    My main gripe peeps is that I cant see any evidence that the impact of the track has been thought through. If we could see a proper picture that shows it in full then maybe, but the information by their architects (wonder what that cost us) isn’t nearly good enough. I’m annoyed because I love the park, my girls love it and the council seem to think its ok to press ahead with something that will change the character of the place in a big way and is not wanted by hundreds of voters! Would it have been too much to do more consultation? OR…and here’s an idea….find an area in the borough that isn’t surrounded by housing!!!

  9. tony May 26, 2011 / 12:14

    If its in the paper it must be a done deal! Too many reputations involved to turn back now. I do think we cannot be guaranteed a fair decision now and that stinks. Google tells me that if they do not show a impatial and balanced decision we can challenge it. Not sure how 🙁

  10. caroline May 26, 2011 / 20:43


    as the above comments the council have put through the bmx track planning. despite a very good presentation by toni hale, the focus of ‘in favour arguement’ was what it will do for the park/kids. the focus should’ve been on the location and its impact to residents. congratulations to councillor preston who was the only councillor present who regconised what residents appeal was. toni will be thanking all residents for their support and efforts throughout i am certain.

  11. Colin Bailey May 26, 2011 / 20:45

    It is not so much the BMX track that offends, but the plan for the youth shelters, which I understand are to be unsupervised.

    Some years ago Hornfair Park and the adjacent area towards Baker Rd were vandal heaven. The club house on the east of the bowling green was burned down once, rebuilt by the council, and burned down again a day or two after it was completed. Uncontrolled youths terrorised the area of Pallet Way and Master Gunner Place. This was solved by the demolition of the old council housing and the relocation of the offending problem families. Now the council will be inviting them back in! The park CANNOT be controlled at night because it must be open by regulation for the Green Chain Walk.

    This is all a very bad idea.

    • caroline May 27, 2011 / 08:37

      The shelters have been removed from the plans which as toni hale said at the meeting suggests that the council anticipated the probability of ‘improper’ usage of the facilitiy. many residents fears are as you have hi-lighted above, to encourage the criminal activity back again. we will have no suprise if it is used incorrectly or vandalised etc. the park entrances are now being locked of a night with gates at either end of the green chain walk.

    • Toni Hale May 27, 2011 / 09:09

      Dear Colin,
      Just to let you know that Greenwich Council and the Agent involved in building the BMX obviously saw a problem because they decided two days ago that there will no longer be any buildings or Teen Shelters at the BMX site. Apparently there will be a 9 foot fence surrounding the BMX site with an opening similar to the gate at the opening of Prince Henry Road.

      It seems that it will be supervised three days a week and the rest of the time it will not. There will be signs to report the dangers and that people should wear a helmet. Good luck with that. They assume motorbikes will not be able to enter the site of the BMX track however, all the motorbike owner has to do is lift their motorbikes onto the back wheel and they will still be able to get through the gate.

      They report that children from the age of 4 will be able to use the BMX track, come on be realistic please, the starting point is 3 metres high and at a steep drop to be able to gain speed to get round the track. They report that 30 people at one time can use the track this does not mean only 30 people as it will take a couple of minutes to clear the circuit. That means 30 people every 3 minutes you do the math. They also report that there will be no noise pollution, are they kidding, 30 people at one time every 3 minutes, plus spectators. They obviously think we all have a hearing problem. They are not making any parking facilities for this sport because, now this will make you laugh, they can go by public transport. Yeah, every single bus driver is going to let people on the bus with their BMX bikes and their other equipment. The nearest station is Charlton some distance away at the bottom of Charlton Church Lane. So expect more problems with parking. It is difficult enough to park when Charlton are playing at home and when the Meridian has a boot sale every Saturday.

      The only positive aspect out of all this is that the park will be locked from dusk till dawn.

      I forgot to say in my last post thank you to Charlton Champion for allowing me to air my views here.

  12. Toni Hale May 26, 2011 / 23:08

    Dear Charlton Champion,

    I am writing this post to report that the BMX Dirt Track is definitely a ‘Done Deal’ so expect broken necks…sorry to say that but at the end of the day accidents in this field will definitely happen, let us hope it is not your child.

    I tried my hardest to support over a 1000 residents in the area and even though we had 577 on a petition, 149 personal letters sent in of which 40 of those were not of the surrounding area, 15 members of the public who were against, attend the Planning Board Meeting it still was not enough. So when is it enough? What do we do as a community to be heard because the majority should have been listened to surely however, this is not the case.

    I would like to point out that I will now be campaigning for the Conservative party as I feel they are the ones who will support me in my campaign to stop open spaces being built on. I fear Greenwich Council and the Labour Party have not supported me in any way in my quest.

    I want to thank Jason Bannister for all his help in this campaign and all of those residents who signed the petition and those of you who posted a personal letter to the Council Planning Board.

    I will always be here to support you because I believe we have a right to our say and to voice our opinion. It is a sad moment for me now but I will not let the blighters get me down. They will have to take me fighting before I am dead and gone.

    If you would like to contact me then please do on 077086895799

  13. Maurice Bird May 27, 2011 / 10:16

    Toni, should we consider raising a judicial review of the decision? A rather lengthy process and one that would need the financial support of all opposing residents. My view is that we have grounds on fairness and inadequate consultation. We have 100 days to submit to the Council a legal notice on this basis. I understand that everyone is probably feeling a little deflated after last night’s decision and the fight may have taken its toll, but I really can see grounds. Prejudiced decisions after press announcements in Greenwich Time, failure to show adequate design details or consult with all residents on the proposals? What say you? It would need decisive action, but if residents are united it may make them reconsider. Best wishes, M

    • Toni Hale May 29, 2011 / 09:32

      I would like some more advice around this I have left my number on another post if you could be kind to call me regaring this.

  14. Toni Hale May 27, 2011 / 12:27

    Though they feel it will not be dangerous, this shows how dangerous it can be.
    This is a good view of what it could look like in Hornfair Park.
    Obviously there will be no noise pollution.
    You Tube is full of this stuff check it out for yourselves. Maybe Greenwich Council should have done the same!

  15. caroline May 27, 2011 / 16:50

    someone has commented on twitter that the council had better have a first aid hut and pad for air ambulance next to it. good luck with the wait at Q.E hospital A&E!!. p’haps if I video all the accidents one will be good enough for ‘you’ve been framed’ and put a couple of quid in the pocket!!!!!

    • Toni Hale May 29, 2011 / 09:34

      Someone has informed me that this would actually be a good point for us to follow.

  16. John Morgan-Evans May 29, 2011 / 20:59

    As a local resident with a boy who is about to become a teenager, I am very concerned that this project, one of the very few for teenagers, will be stymied by the NIMBYists. It is precisely because there is a dearth of activities like this for teenagers to get involved in that we have drug problems and vandalism. And perish the thought that teenagers should have anywhere sheltered to congregate! The Woolwich skateboarding park has kept teenagers in the area peacefully occupied for years, but I suppose that’s OK because it’s not next to your manacured lawns.

    • Colin Bailey May 30, 2011 / 07:24

      Hornfair Park has not been manicured for years and has never been manacured whatever that might be!

      There have been many facilities in the park, not only for teenagers, but also for the rest of us, and at the age of 71 I can remember using most of them.

      I learned to swim in the Lido at the age of 6, now unused for intended purposes and vandalised.
      I have seen the bowling green being played on, now unused for intended purposes and vandalised.
      I have played tennis on the tennis courts, now unused for intended purposes and vandalised.
      I could go on!

      I don’t know what a BMX is. What I do know is that I can use the park now for the peaceful strolls to which my age has now restricted me. If the Park is taken over by all these other interests, I won’t.

      Tell your teenager to learn to swim, play tennis or play football or learn how to appreciate the flowers that USED to be grown in manIcured beds. If there is money available, repair the fountain, the Lido and the other things that people were able to use in the past.

  17. Toni Hale May 31, 2011 / 17:46

    No need to worry my friend because due to the underhanded tactics of the Greenwich Council this venture is going ahead or did you not read the previous posts?

    I myself do not live in the area of Hornfair Park nor will this bother me to the extent that I may have to put up with the devastation it will cause. However, I have used HP for over 25 years, taking my child to the paddling pool then on to the Lido. We have used the swing park and played basket ball and tennis and had many picnics over the years inviting friends and family alike. My daughter even learned to ride her bike there but she did not need a BMX track to have fun or amuse herself.

    20 odd years ago I even worked there as a park/pool attendant. I have campaigned and supported the local community because I believe the park has been left to dwindle and left to deteriorate when it should have been maintained by Greenwich Council. I ask myself why.

    I will put it to you, where is your teenager going to go when the HP has to close while the track is being built and the Lido is being refurbished, Greenwich Park will close for the equestrian and Woolwich Common is cordoned off for the Firing range. Soon there will no where for any children to go for their recreational activities. It is our responsibility to save our open spaces not just for our generation but for the generations ahead. We should not have to close them and cut them off to all and sundry. I will continue to campaign to save our open spaces.

  18. Ashleigh marsh August 16, 2011 / 17:33

    If you think consultation for the BMX track was lacking what about consultation over the local development plan that will turn the riverside into a high-density housing scheme for the upwardly mobile?
    A couple of notice boards in Charlton House on a quiet Tuesday afternoon…
    Would you rather have an open air bike track on your doorstep or a batch of 20 story commuter units?
    Count yourselves lucky! There are a lot of BMX riders in the borough who seem to know how to have fun without causing trouble. Like John Morgan-Evans says, it is the lack of opportunities like this that tend to cause anti-social behaviour in the long run.

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