Report: MEETING OF AVERY HILL PARK FRIENDS GROUP TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF THE WINTER GARDEN: 19 MARCH 2015
TOP TABLE: Coun Nuala Geary (chair, Friends), Coun John Fahy, deputy leader, Greenwich Council and Clive Efford, MP for Eltham.
Greenwich Council has agreed to protect Avery Hill Winter Garden after it is sold by Greenwich University.
Speaking to a packed meeting organised by Friends group and the ‘Save the Avery Hill Winter Garden’ campaign, deputy council leader Coun John Fahy said the council accepted it had a responsibility to enforce the covenants on the historic glasshouse.
He said that the covenants meant anyone buying the Winter Garden would have to guarantee public access and keep it in good condition.
“Any developer buying the site would have to recognise that the site is a listed building and that it contains Metropolitan Open Space”, he said.
He said that a full planning process would apply to any proposals from a developer but the University had said it would need to occupy the site until 2018. It would be an uphill struggle for any developer to persuade the council to depart from the current land designation; they would need the ability to recognise the historical and heritage nature of the site.
The Friends called the meeting to reflect public concern over the University’s sale of the Mansion site.
Chair of the Friends group, Coun Nuala Geary said that for more than 100 years, the Winter Garden had been an open facility, enjoyed by generations of local people.
She said: “The sale raises a great many questions for example, who is going to pay for refurbishment and repairs, will access be guaranteed and who is going to pay for its on-going maintenance, staffing and future repairs?
“Also, can improvements be made to the surrounding gardens, play area, parking, nature reserve as part of the development.”
The Friends have meetings arranged with English Heritage, who are taking a close interest in developments and council officers in which they will discuss possible ways of financing the restoration of the Winter Garden and its maintenance into the future.
Further public meetings would be called so that the council could report back on developments.
MP for Eltham Clive Efford said that there was no pressure on Greenwich to let the site go for housing in order to meet national targets, saying that these were already being met by developments elsewhere in the borough.
“It is not acceptable for the University to flog off the land for housing”, he said.
He said there was a need to enforce the covenants which had been imposed when the site was transferred to the University in 1992.
All parks have a great history, created as public open, green spaces by visionary men and women for the people to enjoy.