Burgess Park west (running from Wells Way to Southampton Way) is under threat. New developments are planned all along the southside of the park on Parkhouse Street.
Tall developments along Parkhouse Street
will block the sun
The 10 storey high blocks (about 30m) will be north facing and cast long shadows across the park. In the winter mornings the shadows will be over 100m long and reach to the main Surrey Canal path. In the summer, shorter shadows will still reach across the wildlife area, about one third the width of the park.
Overshadowing from multiple buildings* will change the character of the park. It will have a negative impact on green space, biodiversity, and people’s health and well-being.
Southwark Council needs to make clear in their planning policy and discussions with developers that they are taking seriously the cumulative impact of tall buildings along the park boundary.
Very little will grow in the deep shade from buildings. Some plants thrive in light shade, but wildflowers and pollinators need full sun throughout the day.
People and parks both need sunshine
Burgess Park west was created in 2018/19 with a £3.5m make-over taking out New Church Road, putting in a playground and extending the wildlife area. The new walkways through the wildlife area are already popular with children, walkers and runners bringing back into use a previously closed-off, no-go area. This is the squeezed middle of the park, less than 200 meters wide, so the extra usable space is really welcome
The wildlife will take a few years to become established. But the evidence from other areas of the park is that the mix of small woodlands, meadows and native bushes attracts and encourages a good mix of plants, insects, butterflies and birds. Sometimes this habitat mix is called scrubland. Often in planning reports it is implied as having little value. That might be the case in places with lots of green space but here in Southwark our patch of green space is important to many, many people.
Inner city green space is vital for people
People who live both nearby and further away use Burgess Park. Since the re-landscaping of 2012, user numbers have gone up and up. It is one of the major parks of the area. As Southwark’s population grows it will be very difficult to make more large, green spaces where children can run freely, play rounders and football. We must look after and keep green spaces for future generations.
Burgess Park has a vital role to play for local people. Around Burgess Park the new Aylesbury area is being built, taller blocks are planned along the Old Kent Road and the new residential developments along Parkhouse Street mean that many more people will use Burgess Park. We want the park to provide high quality green space with different landscapes for people to use and enjoy.
The real value of green spaces for people is easily overlooked
BAME respondents were twice as likely as white respondents to use parks and green spaces for team and individual sports and to meet friends.
Parks and green spaces are estimated to save the NHS around £111 million per year based solely on a reduction in GP visits.
Statistics from Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, Fields in Trust, 2018
by Simon Saville Chair of the Surrey & SW London Branch of Butterfly Conservation
I suppose that most people don’t think of butterflies when they think of Burgess Park. But they should! Already this year (by late March) I have seen a Small Tortoiseshell, a SmallWhite, a couple of Commas and a couple of Brimstones.
Over the past few years, I have spotted no fewer than 16 different types of butterfly in the park. On one spectacular sunny July day, I saw more than 160 butterflies of 10 different species, plus a couple of day-flying moths.
Burgess Park has been managed quite sensitively for wildlife, and there are lots of good places for butterflies. Some of them are shown in this map:
1 – Elm trees, supporting some very elusive White-letter Hairstreaks
2 – Nature area, being redeveloped. This could become a nature hotspot in a few years’ time
3 – The big mounds, home to the Common Blue butterfly
4 – By St. George’s Way
5 – Grassy area with brambles
6 – South-facing slope
7 – Wooded area north of the lake
8 – Grassy area by the lake
9 – Grassy area and hedges between Waite St and Oakley Place
10 – Glengall Wharf, start of Surrey Canal Walk
The Comma is a harbinger of spring, often seen in April. They spend the winter hibernating as adults and they reappear as soon as the weather warms up. This one was in the wooded area north of the lake – a favoured spot. The caterpillars used to feed on hops, but now have a taste for nettles and this has helped them increase their range and abundance in recent years.
The Small Tortoiseshell also hibernates as an adult. This one was spotted in the middle of the Park by some brambles in April. The caterpillars feed on nettles, so it’s important that we don’t tidy the nettles away! We used to see a lot more of these butterflies. Nobody really knows why they have crashed in numbers so quickly.
A Speckled Wood in the Glengall Wharf area in April. They like the semi-wooded areas and enjoy dappled sunlight.
A Sitochroa verticalis moth (this has no English name) on one of the big mounds in June when many of the flowers were in bloom. Also around at that time were lots of Burnet Companion and Silver-Y moths. The latter is a migrant that can appear in London in big numbers.
One of many Common Blue butterflies seen on the big mounds in June last year. The caterpillars feed on Bird’s-foot Trefoil which is present here.
The big mounds are often teeming with insect life, a result of the many wild flowers present.
The spectacular Jersey Tiger moth can be seen flying in the Park in July and August. This photo is from Kennington, about a mile away. This used to be restricted to the south coast, but is now spreading rapidly. It can be seen all over south London. Because it is colourful and flies by day, it’s often mistaken for a butterfly.
Elm trees by New Church Road. If you are lucky, you might see pairs of male White-letter Hairstreaks spiralling in mock combat at the top of the canopy.
Butterflies seen in Burgess ParkLarval foodplant
Common Blue Birdsfoot Trefoil
Green-veined White Crucifers
Holly Blue Holly (spring), ivy (summer)
Large Skipper Grasses
Large White Brassicas
Meadow Brown Grasses
Orange-tip Garlic Mustard, crucifers
Red Admiral Nettles
Small / Essex Skipper
(not separately recorded) Grasses
Small Tortoiseshell Nettles
Small White Brassicas, crucifers
Speckled Wood Grasses
White-letter Hairstreak Elm
I haven’t seen any Painted Lady, Peacock or Ringlet butterflies in Burgess Park, but I would be surprised if they were not present, as they have been seen at Nunhead Cemetery (3km away). The Painted Lady, which is a migrant species, was also seen at Walworth Garden (1km away). There may be Purple Hairstreaks on the oak trees by Waite Street.
Moths present include: Jersey Tiger, Six Spot Burnet, Burnet Companion, Silver-Y and Sitochroa verticalis.
All this goes to show what a wonderful place Burgess Park is for butterflies. I know that Southwark Council are keen to make it even better.
Butterfly Conservation has started a ‘BIG City Butterflies’ project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This aims to get people to engage with the green spaces near them and to discover the wildlife that’s under their noses. We’ll be using Burgess Park as one of our key sites in SW London. It’s early days, but you can read more about Big City Butterflies here.
A murder of crows
Perhaps, if crows were brightly coloured, they would be loved instead of feared.Part of the Corvid family which includes magpies, ravens, jays and jackdaws they are arguably the most intelligent and fascinating of all birds. I have watched them fly off with a chicken’s egg, wash the salt off a chip in a puddle before eating it and mobbing a fox. Set aside an hour to watch this brilliant documentary which will make you view crows in a whole new light.
Just a piece of unkempt turf on the common that is providing shelter, protection and food for next summer’s butterflies, grass-hoppers and maybe the odd frog.
We don’t hear so much about acid rain these days, but it’s still there, scrubbing clean the tree trunks of moss and lichen, so a treat to see this.
Not one organism, but two, a fungus and an alga that can’t live without each other. The fungus provides the structure and the algae make the sugar. There are many different species of Lichen. It’s not feeding on the tree, but is affected by the acidity of the water running off the bark . You will find Lichen on brick and stone, glass, metal ,leather surfaces too.
Lichen is used to make Litmus paper. Dies are extracted and added to filter paper so that it turns red in acid conditions and blue in alkaline. Some lichens contain Usinic acid which is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and attacks cancer cells. Unfortunately, it also damages the liver.
Still some lingering seed heads from last year’s spectacular display in St George’s Gardens. Many seeds have a protective coating and won’t germinate until they have been exposed to frost. This keeps them fresh and hydrated ready to send out new roots into the warm moist spring soil.
Burgess Park fishing lake was redesigned in 2012/13 and opened to the public along with the rest of the park after five years.
Nature and caring people have made the lake as you see it today with reed beds. The very tall reed is Norfolk reed mace. The shorter reeds are Phragmites. We also have Yellow Flag Iris, Bulrush and Water Mint in places.
In 2016 we received 6 rolls of coir matting which were planted with various water plants. These you can see between the bridge and the bird sanctuary. So have fun finding out the rest of the names of the plants for yourselves.
Waterfowl or birds that live on the lake are Mute Swans, three different types of goose (Canada Goose, Greylag Goose and Egyptian Goose), Coots (black body, white beak and head dress), Moorhens (brown body, red beak with yellow tip), and Tufted Ducks (males – black and white and females – brown).
Sometimes there are Common Pochard (grey body with reddish head), a pair of Great Crested Grebes (on Burgess lake in July 2018) and also the Little Grebe.
There are many other birds that visit the water to feed – Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Common Tern and different types of Sea Gulls.
There is as much that lives underwater as above. The most common plant seen is Blanket Weed, next is Najas Minor which is growing in the non-fishing side of the lake, and some patches of Silk Weed out towards the middle of the lake. The lake bed is made up of areas of mud, rubble and rubbish that have been covered in silt. In the pockets of silt can be found Bloodworm (larvae of the non-biting Midge – the little flies you see over your head sometimes) Dragonflies, Damselflies and other types of water insect, too many to list.
Friends of Burgess Park will be pond-dipping by the lake on Saturday 21 July, 4.30 to 6pm as part of London’s National Park City Week. Come and join us.
There are many fish in the lake. Carp is the main species found, Tench is next, then Bream, Roach, Rudd, Perch, Dace and Catfish. Carp can be divided into sub species Common, Mirror, Linner, Fully scaled, Ghost and Koi.
When fishing at Burgess Park lake you must have a rod licence before you fish. You will need to purchase a day ticket from the council web site. The Environment Agency, Southwark Council officers and community wardens come around regularly to check on licences.
While fishing you will need to have a landing net 36 inches minimum and unhooking mat as there is a chance of a large carp or more. You must fish from the swims only. Swims 1 to 6 are concrete. There is a dirt area at the side to put up a shelter and they are on the school and toilet side of the lake. Swims 7 to 10 are on the other side of the lake and are dirt covered.
If you’re lucky and catch a fish then you must return all fish back to the water.
All through June we doing #30DaysWild #wildaboutburgess part of the London Wildlife campaign. The perfect excuse to share your favourite photos @BurgessPk.
Saturday 21 July – 4.30 to 6pm Pond-dipping by the lake. Part of London’s National Park City Week.
In a corner of the English Garden you’ll find Daphne odora. As the name suggests, it has a gorgeous perfume.
Spot the frogs in the pond. There is some frogs spawn and probably more to come. Creep up slowly and you may hear them croaking. The tadpoles will emerge over the next 21 days. At first, they stick themselves to plants digesting the remaining egg yolk in their guts, then they swim about feeding on algae. As they grow, their diet expands to include other pond life and even plant material which they grind up with tiny teeth. By 12 weeks, they look like tiny frogs and at 16 weeks, they assume their adult shape and can leave the pond.
Between Chumleigh Gardens and St George’s Church
These are native trees that are usually found in boggy ground. Tap one of the yellow catkins and you will see a puff of pollen. These are wind pollinated plants that don’t need insects to fertilise them though you may see bees collecting the protein rich pollen to feed to their larva.
There are male and female flowers on the same tree. The female flowers are much smaller catkins which develop into cones. You will find brown cones from last year still on the trees. The leaves are round with a notch cut out at the tip and the bark has small holes in it.
Alder trees fix nitrogen into the soil, so add to the fertility.
Because they grow in boggy conditions, their orange coloured timber will not rot in water so it was used in the foundations of Venice and for water pipes. Above ground, it will quickly rot.
Siskin, Redpol and Goldfinches eat the seeds, several moths feed on the leaves and the bark is used in medicine.
Southwark Council will close the section on New Church Road that runs through the park. The road will no longer be accessible from Monday 4th December. Southwark apologises for any inconvenience caused. The new Quietway 7 cycle pathway which will cut through the park will be built as an alternative route. It is expected to open in spring 2018.
Consultations on the Burgess Park West new play area will take place on:
Tuesday 28 November 3.30 to 5pm Chumleigh Gardens play area, next to the Park Life café, off Albany Road. If the weather is poor the consultation will be inside the Chumleigh West building, which will be signposted from the play area.
Monday 4th December 6pm to 8pm Southwark Council’s offices 160 Tooley Street, SE1 2QH
Drop by to see the emerging design which has taken into account previous consultation results, and tell the designers your ideas and opinions.
If you cannot attend either session and are still interested in the play area design, please get in touch with Pippa Krishnan email@example.com
Listen to the fascinating podcast audio adaptation of the Animated Walkfrom the Friends’ Zeppelin 1917 season. It tells the story of the Zeppelin Raid on Camberwell, in the industrial and residential area that existed before the creation of the park itself, and puts the tragic events of that night into the context of local life at that time. Read about the Animated Walk.
Meet at Theatre Delicatessen, in the Old Library on Wells Way, for a walk around the locations for the memorial, with speeches, refreshments, a poem by Koko and more. To book tickets for the launch event, please see the Eventbrite page.
Take part in the drop-in family art workshop by Art in the Park.
2.30 pm Camberwell Community Choir sing songs from the First World War
3.15 pm History walk to view the art installation of memorial houses including Q and A with the artist Sally Hogarth
4.30 – 5.30 pm Performance of THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
The Unknown Soldier is a moving show, often humorous, but above all thought provoking. It looks at the First World War from a new perspective, through the eyes of a man who has survived the carnage but who finds it hard to return home. A story of comradeship, betrayal and of promises both broken and kept following the carnage of World War One. Official EdFringe 2016 sell out show by award nominated writer of Casualties. Book for 4.30 performance
FOBP have just won the Mary Boast History Prize, organised by the Camberwell Society. Copies of our winning essay will be available at the events, and you can read more about the Prize here, or read the essay here.
2017 events: Revealing the impact of World War I on people’s lives and society
Almost one hundred years ago, on the night of 19th October 1917, a Zeppelin bomb landed in Calmington Road, Southwark. It killed 10 people, injured 24 more, and destroyed a fish and chip shop, a doctor’s surgery, and many homes. The Friends of Burgess Park project “Zeppelin 1917” will uncover the stories of local heroes and piece together the dramatic raid right over what is now Burgess Park.
Jon Pickup and Andrew Pearson, from Friends of Burgess Park are leading the project supported by a successful £9,800 Heritage Lottery Fund award. Jon Pickup said “We’re looking for people to volunteer, get involved and during the summer we’ll be visiting the Imperial War Museum and Southwark Heritage Library to look into archive material about the people who lived in the street. This is a fantastic opportunity to do some original research and uncover hidden stories. We’re also delighted that Southwark Council are funding an art piece for the park to remember this event.” Sally Hogarth has been appointed as the artist.
The project kicks off over the summer. Volunteers will find out more about the Zeppelin and the lives of ordinary people who took heroic action as part of the war effort. In September, children’s workshops led by Art in the Park will take place at the Creation Trust, Giraffe House.
During October 2017 a festival of events at Theatre Delicatessen, in the Old Library, Wells Way, will showcase the work created by local residents. John Whelan will bring together the historical research with volunteers to tell the story of the raid through an animated walk. Stephen Bourne, local historian, and author of Black Poppies, will talk about the armed services as well as men and women who stayed at home and played a role in the civil defence.
The Zeppelin 2017 festival will feature:
Exhibition – A timeline of the raid and archival display – open Saturdays during October 2017, with opening talk by Zeppelin expert Ian Castle on Saturday 7 October.
Hidden Heroes – Talk by Stephen Bourne, author of Black Poppies, on the black community and the Great War, Saturday 14 October 2017.
Animated Walk – Created by actors using research by local volunteers, to animate the history of WW1 and the Zeppelin Raid on Calmington Road in October 1917, on Saturday 21 October.
Family events – Drop-in family events including art workshops with Art in the Park, Cuming Museum object handling, stories and rhymes with Vanessa Wolf, Saturday 7 and Thursday 26 and Friday 27 October.
Thursday 11 January 2018, 4.00 -7.00pm at Burgess Park Community Sports Centre, Cobourg Road, SE5 0JD
Southwark Council with match funding from Parklife Funding Partners (The FA, the Premier League and Sport England) are presenting draft design proposals for developing the community sports hub. Who will run the new facility? Will there be more fencing of sports’ fields? Will Cobourg Road and Neate Street be closed? What will the provision be for access to Cobourg School? Will there be through routes for pedestrians and cyclists? What about parking? Will trees be cut down? Please come along and say what you think about the new plans. Download a pdf of the latest plans.Email your comments to Southwark by 19 January 2018.
2016 plans for Cobourg Road and the Sports Centre development
Southwark Council are proposing a major redevelopment of the Community Sports Centre on Cobourg Road. Friends of Burgess Park are concerned that the plan will fence off more of the park, reduce accessibility, cut down mature trees, increase pedestrian/cyclist conflict and cause parking problems. Read the Friends of Burgess Park submission.
The Living Streets charity for everyday walking studied four paths shared by cyclists and pedestrians in London, including Burgess Park.
The study found that pedestrians experience more conflict than cyclists and there is a disproportionate impact on disabled people. Cycle speed is the key issue for pedestrians and cyclists should be slowed down. Where sharing is unavoidable, signage should make the situation clear. Improving alternate routes may help to diffuse the pressure and tension.
The specific recommendations for Burgess Park are:
Focus on designing an on-road facility for the Southwark Spine cycle route, e.g. along Wells Way rather than through the park
Introduce a small amount of signage to alert park users to the presence of cyclists.
Encourage slower cycling speeds in the park.
Continue to prioritise the destination function of Burgess Park and the leisure facilities.
In the longer term, it is suggested that improved facilities for commuting cyclists be provided on the Old Kent Road, Walworth Road and surrounding roads.
“Because of cyclists coming up behind me, I am always having to look over my shoulders”
“Burgess Park is essentially a giant cyclist interchange, and the [proposed] spine route will make it even busier”
“Are park users pedestrians in the classic sense? People strolling in parks wander around slowly, they turn, walk to the sides… There are also people walking with children and dogs and they are disproportionately affected”
Friends of Burgess Park were consulted for the LIving Streets study.
The application includes plans for a new Quietway for cyclists shared with pedestrians across Burgess Park West. The new route will be lit and will have some changes of surface at key points. (Further details in No. 5 of 24 and No. 9 of 24 of the planning documents).
You can respond by filling in the online form, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via post to Planning Department, Southwark Council, PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX. If you comment by email or post please remember to quote the reference number which is 16/AP/3165.
FOBP will be discussing the application at the Tuesday, 6 September meeting at 7.30pm, Sports Centre, Cobourg Road.
Meeting: Wednesday, 11 May, 18:30 to 19:30, Old Library, Wells Way, Burgess Park
Burgess Park West is the new name for the Burgess Park Southern Entrance project. At the meeting Southwark will be presenting feedback from the previous consultation as well as updated plans, and will also outline the next steps for the project.
Plans and a survey will also be available online from 9 May to 5 June at www.southwark.gov.uk/burgesspark
A public exhibition will be held from 9 May to 5 June at the Sports Centre showing the plans and designs . There will be the opportunity to leave feedback.
An additional exhibition will be held at Chumleigh Gardens at weekends and during half term (weather permitting) where Park Ambassadors will be available to show visitors the plans.
Commuter cycling routes through the park
FOBP are very concerned about the Southwark’s plans for new routes through Burgess Park specifically aimed at commuter cyclists.
The park is an amenity in an area of ‘hard-pressed families’ and ‘urban living’ as defined in the Southwark Cycling Demand Study. Local people value the park as a space for play and relaxation and driving designated cycle routes through it is not appropriate. Living Streets, the national charity for pedestrians, discuss this issue in its policy document regarding cycling and walking. “Changes to pedestrian or cycle use of parks should ensure that the primary use of parks is as a recreational space. Our parks must remain a quiet haven for all, rather than cheap ‘easy wins’ for cycle routes.” Pedestrians and cyclists should not be put into conflict with one another.
There is also research which suggests that increased bike use targets people of wealthier incomes who are benefiting at the expense of people who could be walking in the park. Living Streets are concerned that “For more vulnerable pedestrians such as disabled people, older people and children, walking safely and easily is often impossible. Walking rates are in serious decline and whilst this is in part down to change in busy lifestyles it is more symptomatic of the lack of priority given to pedestrians on our streets.” The charity encourages children to walk to school and we should do nothing to discourage children using what should be safe and healthy routes through Burgess Park to get to the numerous schools around the park.
FOBP pointed out to the consultation regarding Quietway 7: “We have experience in Burgess Park of the quiet route which runs along the Surrey Canal Walk. This is now dominated by commuter cyclists. Pedestrians are forced off the path, and a route which should provide a safe and less polluted way for children to get to school has become hazardous for them.
“The Friends of Burgess Park are concerned that all users of the park are considered when new features are designed which will have such a long-lasting impact on the park.”
FOBP have been informed by Southwark Council that there are more consultations about planned cycle routes through Burgess Park.
“The council intends to make a decision on the entire Quietway 7 route (excluding section in the Burgess Park) once consultation is completed for the entire route. This is likely to be around end of March / April 2016.
Consultation for the detailed design of the Burgess Park section the route is scheduled to commence late February 2016 with a decision made around May 2016.
The routes affecting Burgess Park are currently under review and one update to the maps published will be made in spring next year.
Regarding the specific confirmed routes: The Quietway from Kennington Park to Trafalgar Avenue has a proposed alternative — St. Georges Way and this is currently subject to TfL accepting the cost of the route before any outline design can be looked at. There will be early engagement on this locally in the New Year.
The Southwark Spine route is going to commence with the section south of Burgess Park so that the Master Plan and Aylesbury re-development are further established before officers undertake a review of the ‘level of service’ needed and desired routes north of the park.
There is also going to be a high level study to establish a preferred link from this southern section of the Spine to Quietway 7 which does not involve a route through the park. This will include looking at the use of Wells Way.”