Blackheath Joint Working Party

Since my last report various issues have arisen and been discussed by the BJWP. Perhaps, at least for those of us in Greenwich, the main matters are the proposals to hold large events on Blackheath. As most readers will know by now, the proposed OnBlackheath concert has received in principle approval and is therefore should go ahead again this year. The dates are 12th and 13th September.

The Good Hope Festival was also given approval in principle but has decided to defer the event until 2016, assuming approval will still be available.

Immediately prior to the last meeting of the BJWP, held on 16th April, we received a pre-application questionnaire (part of the process of gaining approval for large events to take place on Blackheath) for a two day event “The Magic of Thailand” to be held on 1st and 2nd August between 10.00am and 7.00pm each day. The proposed location is on the area bounded, on the east, by Prince Charles Road and, on the north, by the A2. The organisers also made a presentation at the BJWP meeting. The notice given was incredibly short and, to my mind, the documents presented and the presentation made indicated that the organisers have no feel for Blackheath. I wonder whether the application is opportunistic, the organisers perhaps having heard that the Good Hope Festival is not going ahead this year. The BJWP has, at the time of writing, yet to decide on its advice to the Lewisham authorising officer who will then decide whether to approve the event in principle.

Following the OnBlackheath concert last September, as part of the benefit to locals, the organisers have paid £15,000 which is to be used to maintain or improve Blackheath. As the event was on the Lewisham side, the expenditure is to be made on that part of the Heath. At a public meeting on 19th February votes were taken as to which projects should be supported by this cash. Interestingly, I am told that there were more Greenwich residents at that meeting than Lewisham residents; the relevance being that only the Lewisham residents were eligible to vote on the projects. The 5 projects to be funded are: to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of Hare & Billet pond; to place interpretation signs at key locations around the heath; to fund new bollards at St Germans Place to prevent parents driving onto the grass and ruining it when delivering and collecting children to and from Blackheath Prep; to build new islands in the Prince of Wales pond; and to fund an expert to oversee the building of a bee bank at Eliot Pits.

A matter which might interest members of the Greenwich Society even though it is in Lewisham, are the plans to expand All Saints Primary School. When originally presented to the BJWP at our meeting on 15th January it was felt that the expansion, if well managed, should be welcomed as putting much needed capital investment into the school’s infrastructure. However, at the latest meeting a member of the BJWP reported that there are plans to incorporate part of the public road in Blackheath Vale into the school. I have not been able to check the accuracy of this report, but if true, I suggest that there would need to be a very good reason for the proposal to be acceptable.

Philip Craig