37 McMillan St development

Back in February, Twinkle Park Trust submitted an objection to RB Greenwich over a planning application for a 3 story building at 37 McMillan Street. The parcel of land in question was the former site of a long-since closed pub, the Duke of Wellington, later to become the home of Blushers Wine Bar, until the late 1990s.

The owners of the land, a property developer name Aurora Apartments, submitted an application to provide three flats on the site: 2 one-bedroom and 1 two-bedroom properties. After considering the application, it was rejected by Greenwich Council for its impact on the character of the street and park, the impact on neighbouring properties, as well as issues with the building for its potential occupants.

Artist render of the proposed building at 37 McMillan Street

An appeal against this decision has been made by the developer, with comments being invited by the Planning Inspectorate before the deadline of Friday 21st August 2020. Twinkle Park Trust is once again submitting comments against the approval of the plans.

Children from the Armada Hall creche playing in the toddlers' playground, 2014
Children from the Armada Hall creche playing in the toddlers’ playground, 2014

Local people now recognise the area as the entrance to Charlotte Turner Gardens, and as the site of the Toddlers’ Playground, which our Trust built in 2014, thanks to a grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust. However, the site has a somewhat complicated history over the past 20 years and the specific slither of land which the application concerns doesn’t legally fall within the boundary of the park.

In the late 1990s, the derelict wine bar was demolished, and the land was gifted to Midi Music Company by the late Len Wallis, a local landowner and philanthropist. The land came with a covenant requiring any use of the land to be of benefit to the community. At the time, Midi Music were looking to construct a purpose built premises for their work – engaging young people to get involved with music – before finding a suitable existing space on Watson’s Street, where they remain to this day.

If you can cast your mind back to 2003, you might remember how it used to look along the street from the photos below. The park didn’t have a formal entrance and on the opposite side of the street there was a single story health centre; it was very different to what we recognise today. After Blushers was demolished the land sat behind hoardings for several years, with a few maintenance issues springing up, along with concerns about fly-tipping. All in all, it didn’t really make the park seem like the welcoming place for local people to enjoy together that we wanted it to be.

As Twinkle Park Trust moved towards refurbishing the entrance to Charlotte Turner Gardens, we approached Midi Music Company about incorporating their site into our plans, and in 2005 we were granted a licence to use their site.

Due to the unknown state of the ground — the best information we had was that the cellars of the old pub had been backfilled with the demolition rubble — we chose to use the land as a visual entrance to Charlotte Turner Gardens. At that time the site was seriously infested with Japanese Knotweed which was encroaching upon the Armada Hall crèche play area. This was duly treated as part of TPT’s landscaping work. Overall, the landscaping of the site (pictured below left) evoked the layout of the Duke of Wellington, based on recollections of former patron. We erected railings around the perimeter and let the plants grow so that they could be enjoyed by eye. We continued to look after the site over the next few years, with RB Greenwich performing day-to-day maintenance, as they do around the rest of Charlotte Turner Gardens.

In 2009 MMC spoke to TPT about their intention to sell the site and TPT stated their interest in purchasing the it. Both companies had the site professionally valued but TPT could not afford the price MMC were asking and had been advised that given the community covenant attached to the freehold their price was not feasible.

IN 2014 TPT tried unsuccessfully to raise the money to purchase the site through public funding bodies but were not been able to do. We have always recognised MMC’s right to sell the site, and we are one of many ardent supporters of their excellent work with young people, and are glad that they can continue. We did of course hope that the community covenant would effect the use of the site as more compatible with the gardens than the current proposals.

We now hope that the planning inspectorate will reject the appeal, and that a new future for the site can be sought, where Armada’s creche, our toddlers’ playground, our neighbours in Turner House are all safeguarded, and the new, open character of McMillan Street that we have worked hard to develop can be safeguarded. Thanks to the work of local residents and campaign groups, including Stop McMillan Street Development and Deptford Folk, as well as the Rt Hon Matthew Pennycook MP, many more people in the area have heard about the plan and have been able to have their voices heard.

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Return of Petanque

The petanque court in Charlotte Turner Gardens

Over the years, the petanque court at the Benbow Street end of Charlotte Turner Gardens has fallen in and out of favour and disrepair. As a Trust, we have organised small tournaments, obtained funding for local people to learn how to play the game and teach others, and even kept a set of balls to borrow from Dog & Bell (back in Charlie & Eileen’s day).

Earlier this year, with the grass and weeds taking over, as well as a few too many divots to contend with, it reached the point where we were thinking about giving up on petanque and consulting with local people if there might be a better use of the space. However, at the critical moment, as people were using the park more for their daily lockdown exercise, a group of local residents got together to see if we might have another go at restoring the court.

Over the next weeks, amongst the unpredictable weather we’ve had this summer, several members of Twinkle Park Trust have been tackling the worst of the weeds and beginning to make the surface playable again. There is still some work to do – ideally we would like to smooth out the surface and to replace the rotten wood around the border, but at the moment it’s just about possible to grab a set of boules and enjoy a match.

If you haven’t played before, here are the rules:

https://www.wikihow.com/Play-Petanque

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Deptford Sculpture Garden

‘Realty’ by David Cotterell

It seems that every little scrap of land these days has somebody sniffing around, looking to build a luxury apartment block, so it’s no surprise that when a picket fence with a ‘For Sale’ sign appeared in the Twinkle Park pond, that we received a number of emails ranging from concern to outrage.

When David Cotterell, whose art studio is on the corner of the park in the Paynes & Borthwick building, approached the Twinkle Park Trust to suggest using the park as the site of a multi-artist sculpture garden for this year’s Deptford X Festival, we were very happy to take part, having supported artists working on the Festival’s Fringe programme in the past, we knew that it’s a great way to encourage visitors who might otherwise not venture so close up to the river.

David’s piece, ‘Realty’, is an example of something that might have seemed satirical at some point in the past, but these days it really doesn’t seem that far fetched that a loosely defined patch of water might be cashed in and the green space around it fall victim to ‘development’. Originally, it was installed a decade ago, floating in the Thames next to Tate Modern, where maybe it was clearly taken as a spoof. Here, in our little pond, its presence was quite a shock. Almost violent. The questions about what happens to the neighbours — the moorhens and heron — if a block of flats went up in its place, had immediately unpleasant answers. And yet it raised the question about what happens to people in an area that’s suddenly sold off for the benefit of new residents. The answers are very similar.

Elsewhere in the Deptford Sculpture Garden, we saw 9 Cymbals by Ian Gouldstone. We heard it too! This interactive sound sculpture was made using a pack of cymbals, found discarded in the park. Ian chose to bring them to life by suspending them from branches, so that falling seed pods and twigs, wind and rain, and whatever you might be able to throw up at them, would make a range of sounds, drawing your ear and eyes upwards to hear what was coming down. Ian is also showing a range of his video and animation in his studio on Borthwick Street during weekends of the Festival.

9 Cymbals by Ian Gouldstone

The final piece was inspired by another resident of the park: our neighbourhood foxes. David Surman’s sculpture She Knows (Magnetic North) is inspired by the instinctive and sensory wonders of wild animals. That the fox and her close relatives know which way is North and can orientate themselves accordingly, feels like some kind of magic to us city dwelling humans. Have we lost our connection to nature or magic somewhere along the line? Can we learn how to retrieve them?

‘She Knows’ by David Surman

Hopefully this will not be the last collaboration with these local artists, and we are grateful to them for activating the park in different ways with their work. We support the park being used in lots of different ways and would be very happy to hear what people thought about these pieces.

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Summerfest 2019

Sunday 30th June 2019, 2 – 6pm

The Summerfest returns to Twinkle Park after a few years round the corner in Charlotte Turner Gardens. Come along for some relaxed fun and music, featuring our old favourites, Heart of Steel Orchestra, DJ Stormy, and some Irish folk music.

Also on offer are some wonderful craft activities, some great prizes from on offer in our Tombola, try some yoga, and you can make a leaf boat to launch onto the pond.

The festival is part of RB Greenwich’s Parksfest and we would like to thank them as ever for their continued support.

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Pond linings, silver linings

As many of you will know, thanks to a generous grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust, as well as support from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Twinkle Park is currently undergoing some long-awaited work to restore the pond to its full, greeny-brown glory. The work started was due to be completed in mid-May but unfortunately there has been a delay which has caused the work has halted until July, at which point we will finally get our pond back!

A drawing of the restored pond in Twinkle Park

 

In the first few days of work, as the vegetation which had taken root over the past few years was being cleared and the contractors began to tackle the liner, they found evidence of subsidence. In the months following the draining of the pond, the Twinkle Park Trust commissioned costly scans of the pond bed to be undertaken, none of which showed any conclusive results, so to finally have found the probable explanation for the water’s disappearance was a relief, but there was obvious concern that the discovery might jeopardise the entire project.

Further examination quickly followed, and a dig around the area uncovered a brick structure with a void, into which some soil had collapsed. It seems that the pond was originally built on top of an old cesspit or well, which had been disturbed (perhaps by the building or utilities works, ongoing in the area at the time), causing a degree of collapse.

Following advise from a range of architects and builders, as well as consulting with the project’s funders, the Trust has been able to determine a course of action which will see the safe completion of the pond restoration. Unfortunately, owing to the delay, our contractor was forced to move on to their next scheduled job, forcing our own building work to pause.

The contractors are scheduled to return as soon as possible and are now expected to return to recommence the work on 2nd July 2018. The Trust is grateful for the assistance and advice we have received from all parties involved in the project over the past few weeks, and whilst we are naturally disappointed that this unavoidable delay has occurred, we are thankful that the project has not been threatened. Whilst we recognise that it is not ideal, we are sure that the surrounding community will agree that the return of the pond to Twinkle Park will be worth the price of a couple of extra months of fences and exposed soil.

Meanwhile, if you need to get in touch, please contact us via email or Twitter.

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Restoring the pond – thanks to Veolia Environmental Trust

In October 2013, the pond at Twinkle Park mysteriously drained overnight, devastating a habitat which was home to birds, insects and aquatic life, and leaving a literal hole in place of a uniquely calm part of Deptford.

A panorama of the former pond at Twinkle Park, full of plant life as a meadow sprung up

Since that time, the Twinkle Park Trust has been working to investigate what happened and to raise funds to restore the pond. Now, thanks to a grant from Veolia Environmental Trust as well as support from Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks Department, we are delighted to announce that work will begin imminently to bring back this much loved landmark.

The Trust has worked in conjunction with the park’s original landscape architects, Ireland Albrecht, to devise a slight redesign to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for the pond and bring the most out of the setting.

Details of the project, including plans for the work can be found in this document (PDF, 4.2Mb).

What you need to know

Following a tender process, Warwick Landscaping Ltd has been appointed to undertake the work, which is due to commence on Monday, 9th April, and will take about a month. During this time there will be no access to the western end of the park, along Watergate Street. Parking in the FREE parking bays at the top end of Watergate Street will be restricted at certain times and we ask your patience while this important work in undertaken.

If you experience any problems during this period, please contact Carol Kenna, Twinkle Park Trust Coordinator

Email: carol@greenwichmuralworkshop.com

Whilst the ‘meadow’ that’s been growing in place of the pond has had its charms, following the completion of the work we are greatly looking forward to seeing the wildlife return to the pond and flourish once again, and for the local community to enjoy the park at its best.

A photograph of the pond at Twinkle Park, full of water!

A formal celebration and opening ceremony is planned to take place at this year’s Summerfest (part of Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Parksfest programme).

Twinkle Park Trust would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work in bringing this project about, and especially the Veolia Environmental Trust for granting the funding to make it possible.

Logo for Veolia Environmental Trust, which has funded a large part of the pond project

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Summer Festival 2017

We have good cause to approach summer with caution. Umbrellas must be held close all the year through; laundry still airs in the bathroom even on clear blue days. Yes, summer days are eyed with rightful suspicion lest those ‘grape-dark clouds are lurking’. You just never know…

The weather for last year’s Summer Festival was just about as perfect a day as one could hope for, following a couple of years of gloom and damp — does this constitute an upwards trend? The Twinkle Park Trust’s meteorology department remains hopeful, yet hesitant to make firm predictions about the sun’s appearance — but we can forecast a happy, fun day for the whole community as we approach what is for many of us the herald of the season’s arrival: next weekend’s Twinkle Park Trust Summer Festival 2017!

Charlotte Turner Gardens
McMillan Street, Deptford
Sunday, 2nd July 2017
2pm – 5:30pm
Wander over from Deptford High Street or along the Thames Path, guided by the DJ Stormy’s finest summer jams as they drift on the breeze, and find a comfortable spot on the grass for what is sure to be a thoroughly pleasant afternoon, including:
  • Ronnie Ripple & the RipChords, once again our favourite Rock n Rollers will be twisting and shouting, happy and free, playing the latest rockabilly sounds
  • The festival wouldn’t be the same without the beating rhythm of the Heart of Steel Orchestra
  • Emergency Exit Arts will be overseeing an intriguing safari, guiding visitors on the lookout for the rare South East London Meerkat, known to inhabit parts of Deptford
  • Children’s party organisers par excellence, Baxter Party Services, are providing fun, games, and an all-important bouncy castle
  • The Metropolitan Police’s Mounted Branch will be trotting along from Great Scotland Yard for a visit. Bring carrots
  • Get creative with local artist Marq Kearey for a unique postcard exchange project with a museum in Łódź, Poland
  • Find out just what a keen eye and a decent pair of wellies can turn up on the shore of the Thames with Greenwich mudlark, Nicola White

Burgers will sizzle, Pimm’s loaded with most of your 5-a-day will be available, and the Dog & Bell welcome you to enjoy take-out bottles from the pub to enjoy on the green.

Thanks to the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s PARKSfest team for once again supporting and funding this event.

See you there!

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Twinkle Park Trust AGM 2017

Please find formal notification of Twinkle Park Trust’s Annual General Meeting

Saturday 10th June at 12 noon

in Armada Hall, McMillan Street, Deptford.

AGENDA

  1. Chair’s welcome and introduction
  2. Minutes and Matters Arising 5.05.2016
  3. Finances: acceptance of accounts, reappointment of Simpson Wreford
  4. Registration / resignation of Trust members
  5. Election of Executive Committee
  6. Election of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary
  7. Progress report
  8. A.O.B.

Members of the public are welcome.

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Summerfest 2016 – next Sunday!

Our annual community festival, supported by the Royal Greenwich Parksfest programme, takes place in Charlotte Turner Gardens next weekend

Sunday, 10th July 2016
2pm – 6pm
Charlotte Turner Gardens

The afternoon is filled with activity for all ages including children’s bouncy castle, arts and crafts, storytelling, music, and food and drink.

We are welcoming back some favourite musical performers – DJ Stormy, Ronnie Ripple & the RipChords and Heart of Steel Orchestra.

Full programme as follows:

2pm: Festival opens

2 – 3pm: DJ Stormy – Reggae, R&B and good vibes

3 – 3.30pm: Yoga session by Jo

Story telling by Vanessa Woolf

3.30 – 4.30pm: Ronnie Ripple and the RipChords – Good times Rock n Roll

4.30 – 5pm: Yoga session by Jo
Story telling by Vanessa Woolf

5 – 6pm: Heart of Steel – SE London’s famous community steel band

6pm: Festival closes.

Throughout the day there will be refreshments with burgers, cakes, Pimms O’ Clock, tea and coffee; a bouncy castle, face painting, a jigsaw mural painting stall, Deptford High Street’s favourite bicycle café, London Velo, is offering a free safety check during the afternoon (so bring your bike!) and a variety of local organisations setting out their wares.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Royal Greenwich Festivals logo

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Twinkle Park Trust AGM 2016

Please find formal notification of Twinkle Park Trust’s Annual General Meeting, taking place on:

Thursday May 5th, 7pm

at Armada Hall, McMillan Street, Deptford.

AGENDA

1. Chair’s welcome and introduction

3. Minutes and Matters Arising 21.02.2015

4. Finances: acceptance of accounts, reappointment of Simpson Wreford

5. Registration / resignation of Trust members

6. Election of Executive Committee

7. Election of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary

8. Progress report

Members of the public are welcome.

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