3 June 2009

Developments in Richmond Park

Whilst the Kingston upon Thames Society (KSoc) deals primarily with the built environment (buildings and roads etc.) it does also take an interest in Richmond Park, which is an important part of life in Kingston.

At the last KSoc meeting we were treated to an excellent talk by Simon Richards, the Park Manager, who gave an insight in to what he does to protect and develop the park, with a particular emphasis on the physical elements to suit the interests of the audience.

During the talk I noted quite a few things that caught my attention, including:
  • The park comes under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, rather than Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; which may say something of the Government's expectations of the park.
  • The boundary of the park extends some 5m beyond the perimeter wall so that park officers can gain access to both sides of the wall for maintenance. Most of the land beyond the wall is leased and now forms part of people's gardens.
  • High ambient lighting is an increasing problem for nocturnal life and one of the ways they try to manage this is to comment on planning applications that add external lighting near the park boundary.
  • Plans to route more air traffic over Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common may suit some local residents but they will impact on the life and ambiance of the park.
  • The views from Richmond Park, e.g. to St Paul's Cathedral, are important. The new T5 building almost masks Windsor Castle and the John Lewis building in Kingston blocked the view of Kingston Bridge.
The main point that came across to me from the long and interesting talk was the need to try and balance the often very conflicting needs of the various users of the park, especially when it comes to the cars v bikes v pedestrians debate. Being a reasonably elderly audience overall there was a strong bias towards cars and parking and little support for cyclists. I thought that discretion was the better part of valour and kept my view that cars should be completely banned from the park to myself!

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