In 1993 Greenwich Mural Workshop was approached by a resident in Rowley House, a block of flats adjacent to Twinkle Park, requesting their assistance in resurrecting the Park to provide play facilities for local children. At that time the park was full of broken, rusting play equipment and six foot high weeds.
Working first with the school and then through a series of planning-for-real events involving local people and a variety of professionals, GMW developed a master plan for the two Parks, taking as its basic vision a pedestrian secure area between Creek Road, a major London commuter road and the River Thames. This established Charlotte Turner Gardens as a village green -replacing Deptford Green which historically lay to the east of the Gardens. It retained Twinkle Park as a tranquil space surrounded by 40 foot high 100 year old London Plane trees, close to the River Thames, a hidden oasis.
Twinkle Park Steering Group was set up and brought together local residents, a school representative, a variety of Greenwich Council departments – Leisure, Parks, Strategic Planning, architecture, planners, other voluntary organisations and GMW. The Steering Group’s role was to direct the fund raising and refurbishment programme and to ensure that local people’s voice was heard throughout the programme. In 1999 the Steering Group formerly handed over its responsibilities to Twinkle Park Trust whose constituency includes Residents, Charlotte Turner Primary school, local voluntary organisations – Deptford Adventure Playground, Hughes Fields Pride (an environment group), a sports group, local business representatives and two Greenwich Council members. The Trust now lease the two Parks from Greenwich Council and is responsible for its management and the provision of educational, cultural and ecological activities promoting the use of the Parks, ensuring local empowerment and encouraging a local sense of place.
The refurbishment programme has been undertaken in stages, as funds have been raised. This was also seen as a way of ensuring maximum access to the Parks during their refurbishment. At each stage local people have been invited to participate in reassessing the master plan to ensure its continued relevance, suggest necessary changes and to ensure their involvement in the overall programme. Through this procedure, when undertaking the partial closure of Benbow Street, the original cobblestones were retained at a resident’s suggestion, as a reminder of the area’s link to the River and trading history.
On completion of each stage of refurbishment a celebratory event is organised bringing the whole community together in a celebration of the latest achievement.
A complementary project is the establishment of a Training Scheme in Amenity Horticulture and Park Management for local young people. seen as an apprenticeship programme the objective is to address the unemployment issue in the area and also provide an active workforce to maintain the parks.