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Another Clissold leisure disaster?

It is a shame that the Clissold Park User Group appears to have become a mouthpiece for Hackney Council’s rather bland plans to rearrange the deckchairs in the park, as opposed to voicing the opposition.

The strategy, such as it is, for running the project, will sadly mean the park will be abandoned for three years and become a danger zone.

It’s not accurate to say we don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on a temporary structure when actually hundreds of thousands will be spent on rather a lot of temporary structures to accommodate the construction people. And that’s just for starters.

All the objections have been ignored and the scheme is going ahead in order “to complete the project” rather than “to do something wonderful that reflects Stoke Newington’s cultural diversity and creative heritage”.

The end result will be about the same as it is now with less space in five years time and £10m of lottery money (mostly raised from the poorer community) and £10m of our council tax will have been wasted.

The park ‘design’ might as well be for any municipal space anywhere – it’s all too ‘off the shelf’.

I appreciate that consultation is always difficult, but I don’t think the full picture of what is going to happen in the park over the next “18 months” project plan is quite clear…

I am not be alone in contesting the consultation results, the curious exploitation of the Clissold Park Act which is a very interesting social document about the preservation of land for the common pleasure and use of the people, and the outcome of the skate ramp experiment quoted which at the time was generally acknowledged to be a bit of a flop.

It looks like designers came to the park who didn’t know it very well, saw the redgra space as a space to be filled up with ‘managed playspaces’, designed it on the cheap, ticked lots of boxes, took no interest in local people’s views, and delivered a plan to produce something quite bland.

There is no consideration whatsoever as to how to manage the space afterwards, and the council seem to be greedily jumping on the money available to do something very ordinary.

The new house will be expensive to hire, expensive to maintain, Stoke Newington School will have nowhere to go as the whole area will be shut for years. There will be less space for people to hang out, and play spaces that will be worse than the ones the park has now.

On the skate park controversy, there are two facilities nearby that my children have used. One in Camden, which is very well managed and with clear rules and safety consideration, and one in Finsbury Park, which is either in disuse or dominated by older groups.

It would be shame, if not entirely predictable, that Clissold will fall into the latter category, and the people responsible will have moved on to some other dull scheme in Wokingham, and won’t be bothered.

Alastair Duncan
Stoke Newington

Read John Hudson’s response on behalf of the Clissold Park Users Group here.

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